Rural Australia in the late nineteenth century: Capt. Stanley and his men capture two of the four Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. Their gang is held responsible for attacking the Hopkins farm, raping pregnant Mrs. Hopkins and murdering the whole family. Arthur Burns, the eldest brother and the gang's mastermind, remains at large has and has retreated to a mountain hideout. Capt. Stanley's proposition to Charlie is to gain pardon and - more importantly - save his beloved younger brother Mike from the gallows by finding and killing Arthur within nine days.
A savage Western set in Australia's Outback, The Proposition is relentless in its intensity and bloody imagery. Set in the late 19th century, the film tells the brutal story of a gang of brothers that kills not out of desperation, but because they can. Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) is the mastermind who shares little in common (other than total disregard for human life) with his younger brother Charlie (Guy Pearce, L.A. Confidential, Memento). When Charlie and their baby brother Mike (Richard Wilson) are captured, Charlie is offered a proposition to save their necks from the gallows. "Suppose, Mr. Burns, I was to give both you and your young brother Mikey, here, a pardon," offers Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). "Suppose I said that I could give you the chance to expunge the guilt beneath which you so clearly labor.... Now, suppose you tell me what it is I want from you." Without blinking, Charlie says, "You want me to kill my brother." For most people, this would be an unthinkable proposition. For Charlie, the answer's obvious. He'll do whatever he has to spare his own life, even if that means trading his for Arthur's. The Proposition at times is a difficult film to watch. But thanks to a compelling story by rocker Nick Cave and a supporting cast (including Emily Watson as the Captain's gentle wife), the film is a classic in the making. --Jae-Ha Kim