In the harsh outback of 1880s Australia, the brutal Burns brothers are wanted for a vicious crime. When Charlie Burns is captured, the officer arresting makes a startling proposition in order to end the cycle of violence: Charlie must hunt down and murder his violent older brother, in order to save his youngest brother from the noose.
Nick Cave's screenplay is mostly impressive - mining themes frequently present in his music. The dialogue is poetic and sparse, although every word felt so earnest - I found it hard to emotionally connect to the story. In the hands of another director, The Proposition could have been ponderous. But John Hillcoat's direction is confident and subtle. He establishes an intoxicating sense of foreboding in this oppressive landscape. This is a punishing tale of morality, loyalty and violence that, from the opening credits through to the final frame, emphatically rejects any romantic notions of Australia's colonial past.