John Hillcoat – The Proposition (2005)

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Nick Cave’s essay in the true and tried Western format, shows how a harsh land (Colonial Australia) brutalizes the men who try and conquer it. Yet this tale has passages of lyricism that counterpoint the sudden moments of savagery. It is a very gritty often grisly picture of 19th Century Australia, warts and all, right down to swarms of blowflies. Perhaps the sadistic violence gets a bit over the top especially towards the end, but thanks to a fine cast, crisp direction, and the scorched cinematography it generally works. A standout performance in a minor role by John Hurt rather steals the show, while Ray Winstone and Emily Watson are particularly sensitive together. One suspects the harsh conditions are somewhat overstated for dramatic purposes, though the story is supposedly based on fact. Tombstone Territory never looked as unpleasant as this. It is certainly one of the most interesting period dramas made in Australia. (imdb) Continue reading