The Proposition John Hillcoat

Written by Nick Cave, The Proposition is a sparse western set in outback Australia in the 1880s. In the wake of a horrific killing of a family, newly appointed lawman Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) sets out to "civilise" his new territory by going after the perpetrators, an elusive group led by Arthur Burns (Danny Huston). After catching Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his slow-witted brother Mike (Richard Wilson), who had recently escaped their eldest brother's gang, Captain Stanley offers Charlie the choice of finding and killing his older brother or seeing his younger brother executed. Everything about this movie is harsh and bare: the landscape, the story, the dialogue and the characters. Nick Cave's musical score is amazing and haunting. The film is well-shot and the story is compelling, but there are many, many moments of extremely graphic violence that make it quite difficult to watch. It's the kind of violence that seems so realistic that it's vaguely sickening. The excellent cast manages to put a lot of humanity into their deeply flawed characters, but ultimately the movie shows a lot of awful people doing horrible things with only slight redemption in the end. (Capri)