Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Review - The Proposition

The Proposition, directed by John Hillcoat, is the bleak, brutal and touching story of of Charlie Burns(played by Guy Pearce), who is given an impossible proposition by Captain Stanley(played by Ray Winstone), who is in charge of the local army unit: to hunt down and kill his psychopathic murderer brother, Arthur Burns(played by Danny Huston), or have his younger, mentally challenged brother, Mike Burns, hung on Christmas Day.

To be blunt, this is not a mainstream, cookie-cutter movie. It's a very long, very slow, drawn out story that takes its time getting from one place to the next. The violence, as I stated above, is brutal, at times sadistic, but comes and goes in relatively brief doses. The treatment of blacks by whites is period-accurate, which is to say it is degrading and humiliating and in a few instances violent. The dialogue can be hard to follow, as much of it is almost muttered, and the thick accents of the characters makes subtitles a near necessity for first time watchers.

However, in spite of the the movies more violent and harsh tendencies, it is at heart a morality story, and a very moving one at that. Charlie Burns relationship with his younger impaired brother Mike is very protective and caring, though not overly affectionate. Captain Stanley and his wife Martha (played by Emily Watson) share a very affectionate and loving relationship that is at times strained by Captains Stanleys duties to civilize the land. All of the acting is superb and the dialogue, though muffled and thickly accented, is outstanding.

The cinematography is one of my favorite things about the movie; the lingering shots and beautiful landscaping is nothing short of amazing; it truly showcases the Outbacks brutality, desolation and beauty.

As beautiful as the cinematography is, I beleive that the movies greatest strength lies in the music, which conveys perfectly the feeling of unease, sadness, harshness and difficulty of life in the Outback. Written and performed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the music is nothing short of beautiful.

An outstanding cast, amazing cinematography, powerful story and brilliant music make The Proposition one of my all time favorite movies. A harsh look at life in one of the harshest places to live in the world, and also a softer look at love, family, morality and faith in the Australian Outback, The Proposition is a must-see movie and one of my top recommendations.

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