By Amy Lamare, May 6, 2006
Film literally opens with a bang as we are introduced to our central characters through a loud, violent and extended shootout between the police and our main Bushranger outlaws – Charlie and Mike Burns (played respectively by Guy Pearce (GPEAR) and Richard Wilson.). The brothers eventually surrender to Captain Stanley, played by Ray Winstone (RWINS). Once the Burns brothers are in captivity our back story is filled in. We learn that our newly incarcerated gunslingers are only 2/3rds of a family of Irish brothers wanted for the murder of a pregnant woman. The real prize the police are looking for is their eldest brother Arthur, played with panache by Danny Huston (DHUST).
Can we just take a moment here and talk about the extreme hotness of Guy Pearce? Whether he is anally uptight and preppy like his L.A. Confidential character Ed Exley or the scraggly, bearded, long haired, dirty bad boy Charlie Burns in The Proposition (PROPT) the man is pure sex on two legs. But I digress…
Captain Stanley has a Proposition for Charlie and Mike. If they want to save themselves from the public hanging that was an oh so popular form of execution in the Outback in the 1880s, then they must do one fairly simple thing. They need to find and kill their older brother Arthur.
It takes Charlie half the film to find his brother Arthur. Along the way he encounters veteran actor John Hurt (JHURT) as seasoned bounty hunter Jellon Lamb. Hurt’s performance is a pleasure to behold.
The rest of the film focuses on the relationship between Charlie and Arthur and whether Charlie can find the gumption to up and kill his older brother. Scenes between the brothers are intercut with scenes of Captain Stanley and his wife Martha, played by Emily Watson (EWATS). The Captain is concerned for the safety of his wife, as his position of authority within the police puts her in danger from the criminals he’s trying to catch.
Flick has a secondary theme running through it focusing on Captain Stanley and his wife’s Cockney background and Charlie and his brothers Irish roots. All are immigrants in a strange and largely unsettled country and each try to impart their mark and their traditions on this new frontier.
Climax of film takes place back at Captain Stanley’s house where all storylines dutifully and satisfactorily are tied up. And Guy Pearce is still hot.
Production values are first rate, from the script to the score -coincidentally both done by rocker Nick Cave. Art direction and lensing have viewer feeling like they are in fact in the Australian Outback in the 1880s.
Overall, The Proposition is a very well done film in every aspect. Its desolate storyline and extreme violence may make it hard to find a large audience.
The Proposition opens in New York today.
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