7.4/10
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234 user 168 critic

The Proposition (2005)

A lawman apprehends a notorious outlaw and gives him nine days to kill his older brother, or else they'll execute his younger brother.

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(screenplay)

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ON DISC
13 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Brian O'Leary
Jeremy Madrona ...
Asian Prostitute
Jae Mamuyac ...
Asian Prostitute
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Mick Roughan ...
Mad Jack Bradshaw
Shane Watt ...
John Gordon
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Sergeant Lawrence
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Jacko
Bryan Probets ...
Officer Dunn
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Patrick Hopkins
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David Vallon ...
Tom Cox
Daniel Parker ...
Henry Clark
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Storyline

Rural Australia in the late nineteenth century: Capt. Stanley and his men capture two of the three Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. Their gang is held responsible for attacking the Hopkins farm, raping pregnant Mrs. Hopkins and murdering the whole family. Arthur Burns, the eldest brother and the gang's mastermind, remains on the loose and has retreated to a mountain hideout. Capt. Stanley's proposition to Charlie is to gain pardon and - more importantly - save his beloved younger brother Mike from the gallows by finding and killing Arthur within nine days. Written by Armin Ortmann {armin@sfb288.math.tu-berlin.de}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

This land will be civilized. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong grisly violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

9 June 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Proposition  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$215,987 (Australia) (14 October 2005)

Gross:

$1,900,725 (USA) (8 September 2006)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the gunmen in the Burns' fort at the beginning is named "Jack Bradshaw". Although the movie's plot was fictitious, there had been a real 19th century Australian "bushranger" (outlaw) by that name. See more »

Goofs

Although the story takes place in the 1880s, Jellon sings "Danny Boy" - which wasn't published until 1913. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Captain Stanley: Do I need to introduce myself?
Charlie Burns: I know who you are.
Captain Stanley: Good. I know who you are.
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Connections

Referenced in At the Movies: Episode #7.19 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Danny Boy
Music Traditional
Words by Nick Cave
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User Reviews

The narrative may be weak but there is much to make up for it in this hauntingly beautiful and bleak film
19 March 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Australia is a country in the throws of settlement by the English and lawlessness is rife. As the bloody clearing of aborigines continues, one gang's attack on a white family causes outrage. The pressure is on Captain Stanley to bring in the Burns gang, led by the sadistic and heartless Arthur. When Stanley's men capture the two younger brothers he strikes a deal with Charlie, the elder of the two. In nine days time, on Christmas Day, young Mike will hang unless Charlie has returned with his brother – dead or alive.

The plot summary and the advertising seemed to offer some form of thriller but in reality the film delivers something altogether more interesting and memorable. Set in the Australia outback where settlements are being born and laws being established, the film charts the moral complexities of the good and bad in the story while painting a beautifully bleak backdrop of open space and bloody, pointless violence. It is not an easy film to watch and certainly not one to expect to come out of laughing or feeling good about things. Nor is it a film to go into expecting a traditional plot because it is this area where the film is at its weakest because it is not a "this happened, this happened then that happened" sort of story. This is not to say it is boring but it does require patience for the casual viewer. Personally I found most scenes to be interesting but most admit that the narrative kind of hangs around rather than moving forward firmly in one direction.

The substance is more in the characters than in the narrative and on this level it was engaging. Although the posters and summary will tell you this is about the Burns brothers, it is as much if not more about Stanley and his wife. It is he would has the duality of trying to defeat violence by encouraging it while also heaving under the burden of trying to take this job entirely on his own shoulders while protecting his wife from knowing anything about the real world out in the desert. It is an interesting thread and for my money it was the thrust of the story – the issue of what Charlie will do is actually part of Stanley's story rather than the other way around. With this as the story the film is much better because it does paint a convincing tale around this. The Burns brothers thread is still interesting but less is done with it – with Arthur himself being very little more than an enigmatic plot device.

Style wise the film is fantastic as it delivers a bleakly convincing picture of the birth of Australia. The landscape is beautifully filmed and, although Cave could have done more as writer, his contribution to the soundtrack is as welcome as it is well used. The sudden moments of violence are uncomfortable and difficult to watch. They are delivered in visceral moments of gore that are bereft of any touches that would glamorise the death; here it is horrible and full of flies. Of course you are right to note that a hauntingly stylish delivery should not be taken as a replacement for substance but I think it has just about enough of the latter and an abundance of the former to carry the film as a whole.

The cast are mixed but nobody really turns in a bad performance. Winstone dominates the film with easily the best performance and the most interesting character. His Captain Stanley wears every decision and Winstone allows us to see the effect this country has had on his soul. Watson is also good, simple at first but touched by the violence that her husband cannot defend her from. Pearce is an astute and subtle actor who keeps the audience with his thread even though it is less interesting; however Huston is not used as well as he deserved. He gives a memorable performance but his character is never more than an action waiting to happen. Wilson is convincingly young and his flogging is difficult to stomach, while Hurt turns up in a nice cameo as a bounty hunter. As much as the performances though, the film is about atmosphere, and Hillcoat has done a great job in producing a desolate film that is as beautiful as it is disheartening.

An imperfect film due to the lack of a strong narrative, this is still a memorable affair for many reasons. It looks great, has a great use of music and produces a haunting desolation in the country and the characters. Not a fun night out by any means but for what it is, it is well worth seeing.


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