Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I am so glad this older Australian Western came along and got the awful taste of "3:10 to Yuma" out of my mouth - "Yuma" was connect the dots lame and full of pompousity (as in to be pompous - I know it is going to catch on one day). "The Proposition" rolls in and truly combines the artful style of John Ford with the realistic brilliance of Robert Altman to create a really well done addition to the Western genre.

Guy Pearce shows up scraggily and very skinny, rolling as the more sane brother of three who are being hunted for the rape and murder of a farm family. Pearce is captured and his younger brother is taken away, being held on the condition that Pearce murder his older brother.

That is the plot, but the plot just gets in the way of some amazing performances!

Ray Winstone owns every frame of this film as Captain Stanley, the man who is put in place to bring justice to the lands of Australia. Winstone (along with Emily Watson, playing his wife) chews up every bit of the struggle Stanley endures with trying to bring peace to a violent world. I was particularly moved by the sequence when the youngest brother was flogged (whipped) and Winstone winced as even his wife moved against his word!

The ending moments with this character are fascinating and appropriate!

Danny Huston plays the oldes and nutty brother, Arthur. He tears through people with a hunger for carnage... yet shares many quiet moments trying to understand the world... sitting... listening... trying to figure out where he stands within it.

Sadly, the praise is not complete. The Burns Brothers story really goes nowhere - nor does the proposition. We get loads of good time with Cap. Stanley, but all is lost as the rest of the film Guy Pearce is trying to recuperate from wounds. Even his dialogue scenes with Arthur come up a little empty.

John Hillcoat does a very good job directing - in fact, his scenery got me excited at the concept of THE DARK TOWER being made one day with Pearce at the lead!! But my dork sensibilities need to acknowledge the unlikelihood of that. The failure is in the scripts 3rd act - Nick Cave should have found something for Pearce to do.

NICK CAVE!!! I forgot, his music was simply brilliant! I loved his work on "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and here, again, the composer comes up with a score for the ages. Fantastic stuff!!

"The Proposition" : B+



Kern said...

Nick Cave is f-ing amazing. Have you ever heard his record Murder Ballads? That's one of his best modern works in my opinion.

As far as the music, I may be wrong but did Warren Ellis work on the music as well? He's a fiddle player in the Australian instrumental band Dirty Three(also amazing). Just wondering.

Damfino said...

I have no idea - I just saw his name.

Murder Ballads eh? I will have to find that.

Did you see this flick Kern?

Kern said...

I meant to see it because Cave is insane and I love his music. I was glad to see you review this though, as it reminded me I needed to Netflix it soon.

I did check and indeed Warren Ellis did collaborate with Cave on the soundtrack. In the early days of your blog I actually reviewed an album from Warren Ellis' band Dirty Three called Ocean Songs, which is great stuff. It makes sense as they're both Australian and have worked together on music before.