The Proposition Movie PosterNick Cave - The Proposition Soundtrack

The Proposition

Director: John Hillcoat
Screenplay: Nick Cave

Cast: Guy Pearce, Emily Watson, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Tom Budge, Danny Huston

Studio: First Look
Rating: R

First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5

Written by Tracy M. Rogers


The Proposition, singer-songwriter Nick Cave’s solo debut as a screenwriter, is not a film for the faint of heart. Set in the lawless Australian outback of the 1880s, The Proposition is at once a historical western and a psychological thriller in which innocence is all but non-existent, and madness and depravity are prevalent. Full of sumptuous scenery and analytical dialogue, the plot of The Proposition revolves around the attempts of local authorities to catch infamous bushrangers the Burns brothers, who have murdered the entirety of the Hopkins family for no better reason than sheer bloodlust. In desperation, local police captain Morris Stanley (the sublimely talented Ray Winstone) makes a devil’s bargain with the middle Burns brother Charlie (Guy Pearce): In order for Charlie to save his beloved younger brother Mike (Richard Wilson) from the gallows, he has nine days to kill his older brother and the gang’s leader of mayhem Arthur (the superbly deviant Danny Huston). The drama that unfolds from Charlie’s acceptance of Stanley’s proposition is suspenseful and poignant. Not only does it provide insight into the motivations and weaknesses of the film’s characters, but it also delves into the shameful treatment of aborigines and prisoners by the British Army during its tenure as colonial rulers. An eye for an eye, a death for a death was the British policy, even though their version seems far less just. It seems that cruelty abounds from every corner, every character. Even the ethereal landscapes that serve as the film’s backdrop — the surreal yellow fields of the plains and the burnt sienna of the desert, the electric blues of the daytime sky and the luscious purples and reds of the desert sunset — seem tainted by the end of the film. Cave also wrote the score for the movie, and his haunting musical interludes add to the certainty that all is tainted. In the end, The Proposition asks many questions, but provides few answers. It is a rare, thought-provoking movie in an endless sea of "feel-good" flicks. It is a film that elucidates much about human cruelty, one that is both restless and questioning, savage and compelling. starstarstarstar

The Proposition is available on DVD from
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The Proposition Soundtrack is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Viewable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box