The teeth are yellow in the Australian western "The Proposition," and the sky is as red as blood. Directed by John Hillcoat from a screenplay by the darkly moody musician and author Nick Cave, the film tells a story of murder in the outback that is as cruel as it is aesthetically flamboyant. Here flies swarm over the living and the dead with equal attention, perhaps because one doesn't really seem all that different from the other. In the late 19th century, warm flesh and cold meat each appear fairly rancid under the glare of the hot Australian sun, or at least when caught in the similarly pitiless gaze of these filmmakers. The wide open spaces and roughneck history of modern Australia, including the wholesale slaughter of the continent's native peoples, make the country a natural setting for a western. Not surprisingly, given Mr.
Blood on the saddle
The Proposition movie review & film summary () | Roger Ebert
Directed by John Hillcoat. AMERICAN westerns, part of an endlessly flexible genre, concern themselves with many things, but most eventually get around to considering the effect civilisation has on virgin wilderness. The Proposition, a searing, brutally violent revenge drama, which already feels like one of the great Australian movies, takes a somewhat different tack. Here, the bush country is so utterly forbidding, and most of the film's white anti-heroes so disinclined towards order, that civilisation seems a near-impossibility. The elegiac tone that so many American films adopt when dealing with the retreat of the frontier is surplus to requirements.
The starting point of this analysis is the film The Proposition, which opened nationally in Australia in October The sound-track is by Nick Cave. Charlie Burns Guy Pearce and his teenage "simple" brother Mikey are made prisoners. Together with their older "mad" brother Arthur, they are wanted for rape and murder. But Arthur has gone feral and is hiding in the hills, in a godforsaken place where nobody is willing to go and get him, not even the Aboriginal trackers.
It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. The Proposition illustrates that, extending the metaphor, revenge is more often bitter than sweet. Gritty to the point of being disturbing, The Proposition examines the revenge thriller not as the culmination of righteous indignation, but as a pyrrhic victory devoid of catharsis. On the surface, The Proposition may echo Hollywood's storied Westerns, but the look and the feel of the film are more disquieting than anything that John Ford or Sergio Leone ever brought to the screen.