Monday, October 02, 2006

The Proposition: Grade C


The Proposition

Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson; Director John Hillcoat

The Australian outback is the stunning location for a story set in the 1860’s of lawmen vs the outlaw Burns Gang, three brothers. The two younger bros are captured, but the middle one is released with instructions to kill the at-large older one, if he wants to save the younger from hanging. It’s an unlikely proposition, and the cops don’t even bother to follow Guy Pearce to learn his older brother’s whereabouts. Emily Watson and Ray Winstone do standout acting as the police captain and his wife, but their roles are pointless. There is lots of bloody violence but it is in context and not offensive. Too many male characters looked and acted alike and I had a hard time telling who was who. Dusty, sweaty scenes with flies around the eyes give a palpable sense of place. Orange filters are overused, probably to (unnecessarily) underline the heat. Still, the movie is above average in beauty. Photography, music, and directing recall Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone, but the story doesn’t hold up. We never see the outlaws do anything lawless so they just seem like a random bunch of crazy men. There is no cat and mouse tension. Characters are two-dimensional and unmotivated. GP finds his brother and eventually kills him as ordered. The end. There is no drama and the movie is flat. It would be equally enjoyable, even better maybe, with no dialog whatsoever.

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