The Proposition (2005)

The Proposition If they call them spaghetti Westerns when made in Italy, should we call them Chiko Roll Westerns when made in Australia? Not the funniest joke I’ve ever come up with, I know, although it’s still funnier than anything inThe Proposition; it’s as dark as you might expect something written by Nick Cave to be, and singularly light on humour (John Hurt’s overacting bounty hunter doesn’t count). Director John Hillcoat matches the heaviness of the plot—man can only save younger brother from execution by turning in older brother—with a similarly weighty treatment. It’s quite a good story, but the heavy-handedness of the handling ultimately precludes it from being terribly enjoyable; early on in the film especially Hillcoat and Cave seem determined to invest things with a significance they don’t really match up to, and the whole thing just becomes tiresome quickly. Only the scene of the younger brother’s public flogging, and the initially bloodthirsty crowd’s eventual revulsion at it, achieves much real emotional resonance; not much else comes close, least of all the somewhat obvious revenge tragedy climax.

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