Friday, October 23, 2009

"The Proposition" (2005) - Movie Review

There is a melancholy to the darkest tales. There can be men with hearts of lead but their devil has a song to sing. This is the tale of those men, “The Proposition.” Directed by John Hillcoat, the morality does not have a place, conscience has no place to hide than to bury itself into this far outback of the old Australia. There is no good and bad out in this story. There are men whose hands are anointed with blood and they take no pride in it but they do not regret it either. These are people finding no place and staying no where. It is a dark poetry and the sadness is such an element that it becomes beautiful.

In the far barren lands of the ancient Australia with aboriginals hunted and laboured menially, comes a proposition from an English police officer Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) to a man Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) seeking unattainable peace with his young brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) tied, hurt and helpless. Stanley offers a deal, kill Charlie’s elder brother Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) and he and his kid brother Mikey will be pardoned. Stanley is the only balance of sanity and morality this film’s characters have. He is seen as weak but he wants a specific justice of his own. The brothers are accused of a rape and murder of one Eliza Hopkins. Stanley assured that the real culprit is Arthur wants the justice to be clever, swift and precise.

So goes lean and desperate Charlie, rethinking his regretful relationship with his elder brother to find him unaware of what he is going to do with him. Before he knows, he is hunted by the frightened aboriginal rebels and rescued brutally by Arthur’s crew comprising of a sneaky and dangerous Samuel (Tom Budge). “The Proposition” is a dark tale, visceral enough to be distasteful in an elegant way. The love for this picture is immense from Hillcoat who sought Nick Cave, the composer for the story. The settling sun waiting to be ogled by this beast of a men is threatening. The photography which cannot get more eyes from the dried sands of outback in Australia swallows whatever it could observe.

Preceding the story of men in the “The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford”, this is unique to its own clan of people. In this story of men lies a beautiful, calm and vengeful woman. That is Captain Stanley’s wife Martha (Emily Watson) whose friend was the murdered Eliza Hopkins. She demands justice from her husband who has made a deal angering the locals and her too. Revenge in a conscience person is misleading. It attracts them seductively of anger but punishes immediately at the sight of the result. Thus happens when young tender Mikey gets a punishment which gets brutal and tilts the balance of justice on the eyes of Martha.

And never I have seen Danny Huston in a sociopathic snaky role as this and he is more than a typecast the Hollywood has made him of. Here he is mysterious as the non-existing devil may rise. Ray Winstone with such a nobility to his Stanley is the only person knowing the consequences of his actions and he is such a pleasure to watch being powerful yet helpless. Guy Pearce in his calm fashion is an aspiring man for redemption.

All these people’s history are reflected by other people through words and sorrows. They are defined by their behaviour in this unmerciful land. In this are characters staring at the empty air amused despite the bunch of flies covering their eyes. There are skins waiting to be ripped apart where the flies can sense within fraction of seconds. The sweat does not help either and the heat causing it paints photographic art to the film. At the same time the heat is not inviting to the audience.

“The Proposition” is supposed to be very accurate on the portrayal of aboriginals in the 1800s. Still they are background in this wild tale of a western soaked in poetry. Runs the poem of darkness by the music of Nick Cave and it adds another layer of dirt and you know what I mean. The sociopaths, the evil, the desperate, the devilish, the marginally right, the completely wronged and the shelled innocence are all wandering out here. Out here in the place of cold hearts, merciless men, scenic sun and its scorching rays and they are gnashing through the “The Proposition.”

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