The Proposition

  • Directors: John Hillcoat
  • Producers: Chris Brown, Chiara Menage, Jackie O Sullivan, Cat Villiers
  • Writers: Nick Cave
  • Genres: Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson, Danny Huston

Set in the Australian outback in the 1880s, the movie follows the series of events following the horrific rape and murder of the Hopkins family, allegedly committed by the infamous Burns brothers gang.

The film opens in a brothel during a violent gunfight between the police and Charlie Burns’ (Guy Pearce) gang, which ends with the deaths of all of the gang except for Charlie and his younger, mentally slow brother, Mikey (Richard Wilson), who is wounded. Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) proposes a proposition to Charlie: he and Mikey can go free of the crimes they have committed if Charlie kills his older brother, Arthur (Danny Huston). Arthur is a mercurial psychopath who has become something of a legend and is so vicious that the aboriginal tribes refer to him as “The Dog Man” and both the police and the aboriginals refuse to go near his camp. Captain Stanley muses that perhaps the bounty hunters will kill Arthur in time and then states his intention to civilize the harsh wilderness he has been forced to live in by bringing Arthur to justice and uses Mikey as leverage. Charlie has nine days to find and kill Arthur, or else Mikey will be hanged from the gallows on Christmas Day.

Captain Stanley and Martha, who had become increasingly paranoid as they were ostracized by the townspeople after the flogging, let their guard down to have a peaceful, civilized Christmas dinner. Just then, Arthur and Samuel shoot open the door and invade their home. Arthur pulls Captain Stanley into the other room and brutally beats him, while Samuel taunts his wife. Arthur then shoots Captain Stanley in the shoulder, after which he calls Samuel to the room. Samuel pulls Martha into the room. As Samuel attempts to rape Martha, Charlie walks in and informs Arthur of Mikey’s death; Arthur ignores the news and encourages Charlie to listen to Samuel sing quoting how he does so like a bird. Charlie walks up to the unsuspecting Samuel and shoots him point blank in the head, then shoots Arthur twice, after saying simply, “No more.” After this Arthur walks out of the house. Charlie looks at a gun on the table and then tells Captain Stanley “I’m going to be with my brother.” Charlie leaves the house and follows a trail of blood to find Arthur hunched over on a hill nearby and sits down next to him. Arthur states that Charlie has finally stopped him and asks what he will do now, and then slowly dies as his brother watches the blood red sunset of the outback.

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