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The Proposition

Film Four Stars

I missed this during its first run in the cinema, despite repeated warnings not to from friends, other sites, and my own nose for a film. The combination of Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone in one movie spoke volumes to me. I love Winstone's acting and Pearce always turns in incredibly strong performances as well as both always appearing in solid character driven films.

Proposition also promised something different as well, as Unforgiven redefined the western, this film promised to do the same for the outback period film. Written by Nick Cave also brought a strong allure.

Writing all this down now I can't believe I didn't go and see it when it was first released, however I didn't and here I am now reviewing it for those who, like me, didn't pick up on the glaring signs in front of them. The signs are right, listen to them.

Proposition.jpgTo say that this film was a surprise is a bit of an understatement. At times it's a very harsh and uncompromising movie, portraying violence and death in the cold light of reality. Scenes of death and violence are quick, swift, ugly and extremely painful. This feeling is something that is apparent throughout the movie for all of life in the early colonisation of Australia. Life is uncompromising and there's an unwordly struggle for every moment of life.

Then there's the portrayal of the human condition itself, and the film is very strong in this aspect. The characters are all quite unique, there's no leaning into the stock good guy - bad guy relationship here, and the characters are all struggling with their moral ambiguities.

Winstone, who you may think of as being the good character here can be seen to represent the typical English view of colonisation, a phrase that hid words such as murder, theft, cultural destruction and even genocide. Meanwhile mad as though Danny Huston may seem, his belief in the original people of the land shows his hatred and callouslessness seems only destined for the white people. Pearce also carries an ambiguity. Although he seems to care for neither brother, white or aboriginie, his morals have kicked in when the violence became too much and he attempted to protect both himself and his younger brother, his love for his brother becoming the driving factor for the film.

So the characters become very real. Each with their own identifiable driving force which shows the good and bad in each.

Winstone provides a superb performance as the seemingly good character in the film, yet from the outset we see that his methods and beliefs are somewhat questionable, yet he ultimately believes everything he is attempting to achieve and why.

He brings this together in a wonderfully restrained performance, struggling with the huge task ahead of him and the slow descent towards the confrontation and the possible end of his dreams. We watch him crumbling through the film, clinging to all his beliefs, even the final scenes as he awaits the inevitable with a resigned stiff upper lip, enjoying a traditional Christmas meal.

Huston gives another good performance as the man toying with the fringes of civilised society and madness. He gives a strong and cold performance that again makes you believe in the character. At times manical but very controlled and focussed.

Pearce once again shows what a strong actor he is. His role requires little conversation and more looks and actions. He does both well and seems to epitomise the hardened outback cowboy. His meeting with John Hurt does show the strength he brings to his character. The distrust, conflict, cold anger, and yet the desire for some human connection. A character carrying strong conflicts within himself.

This film has many levels, and the excellent story and characters aside what it does bring is a strong picture of what the colonisation of Australia really meant in human terms. Particularly harshly shown is the way in which the Aboriginies were treated as the white men invaded their land.

It's a tough an uncompromising tale, but it's a superbly written, nicely shot, and strongly acted film. The final scenes are quite harsh, but complete the film very well and leave you with a distaste for what happened and how it must have been to live in those times.

I'd definitely recommend this film, although at times it is quite a tough film, it certainly doesn't compromise in its tale.


IMDB Film details





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Comments

Right, another addition to my rental queue!

Thanks Richard! :D

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