A bloody, fascinating Aussie western, The Proposition stars Guy Pearce as an outlaw put in an unenviable position by a British copper (Ray Winstone): either track down and kill his loony older brother (Danny Huston), or his younger sibling (Richard Wilson) will be executed. The desperate story plays out in the stunning but spartan barren Outback - a place as hard and unforgiving as the men who roam it. It's a savagely entertaining look at the nature of man.
Singer Nick Cave (of The Bad Seeds) brings an apocalyptic, Old Testament flavour to what is only his second screenplay, whose theme and tone will be familiar to fans of his music. Bleak is too weak a word. The key scene is perhaps when a lonely, frightened boy is whipped to near death, while far away his brutal brother listens to another thug sing a transcendent song. There is beauty in the beast.
"COMPLEX AND SUPERBLY PERFORMED"
David Wenham (Faramir in The Lord Of The Rings) is lumbered playing a priggish colonial caricature, but the other characters are complex, eccentric and superbly performed. Winstone gives one of his best turns as a tough but fair figure chewed up by the establishment he serves. His relationship with wife Emily Watson gives the film a delicate humanity beneath the gore. Pearce allows his moral dilemma to play out across his sad eyes and John Hurt gives a vivid, flamboyant cameo as bounty hunter Jellon Lamb. The conclusion is exhausting and exhilarating; the film hugely entertaining and troubling. Watch it. Then watch it again.