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The Proposition - Preview

Guy Pierce in The Proposition

Preview by Jack Foley

THERE was a time when Westerns were all the rage. Now, they are few and far between – although the new revisionist style spearheaded by Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven has given rise to some classics in the genre.

Another of these looks set to be The Proposition, an Australian western penned by singer Nick Cave and directed by John Hillcoat.

The film marks Cave’s second outing as screenwriter and is a raw, bloody film that is steeped in classic Western traditions.

It was screened to considerable acclaim at last year’s London Film Festival and looks set to be similarly well received at Sundance.

Set in the Australian Outback during the 1880s, it tells the story of a violent killer (Guy Pearce) who is given a shot at redemption if he will track down and kill his even more vicious older brother (Danny Huston).

The dilemma is posed by Ray Winstone’s lawman who also vows to hang his younger brother if he fails to carry out the task.

The ensuing tale of murder and revenge is not for the faint-hearted but succeeds in providing a compelling human drama set against an unforgiving terrain.

Indeed, filming in the Australian Outback proved difficult given some of the temperatures the actors and crew were forced to endure – some of which threatened to melt the equipment.

The set was also plagued by the near-constant presence of flies, many of which were inadvertently consumed by the stars while uttering their lines.

As gut-renching as this sounds, such difficulties proved virtues in helping to make the film more authentic.

For Cave, the writing of the project came far easier, as he explained in a recent interview with the BBC.

“It felt like writing a piece of music to me – the mathematics of it are the same. The layering of something very quiet and sombre before something very violent comes in. The general rhythm of it all felt very much like writing a song.”

The talented cast, meanwhile, provide performances to rival the best work of their career, with Pearce, especially, adding another strong role to a CV that already includes classics such as Memento and LA Confidential.

The film opens in UK cinemas in March and we would urge you to see it. A review and interviews will follow then.

Take a look at our pick of the films of 2006