The Proposition (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Proposition (2005)



Critic Consensus: Brutal, unflinching, and violent, but thought-provoking and with excellent performances, this Australian western is the one of the best examples of the genre to come along in recent times.

Movie Info

An outlaw is goaded into taking on justice at its most brutal in this hard-edged Western set in rural Australia in the 1880s. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is a criminal living in the outback. He and his two brothers, Arthur (Danny Huston) and Mikey (Richard Wilson), are on the run from the law for rape and murder. Arthur is a violent and dangerous sociopath with a much longer rap sheet than his siblings and a reputation for hiding out in villages so lawless the police are afraid to visit them, while Mikey is a much younger and more impressionable chap.The authorities capture Charlie and Mikey after a bloody shootout, and the brothers are handed over to Capt. Stanley (Ray Winstone), a British lawman sent to Australia to help bring order to the colonies. Stanley proposes a deal to Charlie, explaining that it's Arthur he really wants, and that he's willing to spare the childlike and terrified Mikey if Charlie can find Arthur and murder him. Charlie, realizing that this is his only hope to save his simpleton younger brother (who is scheduled to be hanged on Christmas Day), agrees and sets out to find and execute his other brother, who he believes has gone too far into the world of crime. As Charlie scours the backwaters of Australia, he encounters Jellon Lamb (John Hurt), an educated yet thoroughly menacing bounty hunter. In time, Charlie finds his brother, but isn't certain if he can carry out his mission. Meanwhile, Stanley struggles to bring a European sense of civility to the rough and tumble land he now calls home, while his wife Martha (Emily Watson) becomes the focus of the lustful appetites of the men in town. The Proposition was written by rock star and novelist Nick Cave; he previously collaborated with director John Hillcoat on the film Ghosts... of the Civil Dead. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R (for strong grisly violence, and for language.)
Genre: Western, Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Nick Cave
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 19, 2006
Box Office: $1.7M
First Look Pictures - Official Site


Guy Pearce
as Charlie Burns
Ray Winstone
as Captain Stanley
Danny Huston
as Arthur Burns
John Hurt
as Jellon Lamb
David Wenham
as Eden Fletcher
Emily Watson
as Martha Stanley
Noah Taylor
as Brian O'Leary
Tom Budge
as Samuel Stoat
Leah Purcell
as Queenie
Garry Waddell
as Officer Davenport
Richard Wilson
as Mike Burns
Mick Roughan
as Mad Jack Bradshaw
Tom E. Lewis
as Two Bob
Jeremy Madrona
as Asian Prostitute
Jae Mamuyac
as Asian Prostitute
Shane Watt
as John Gordon
Robert Morgan
as Sergeant Lawrence
Bryan Probets
as Officer Dunn
Oliver Ackland
as Patrick Hopkins
David Vallon
as Tom Cox
Daniel Parker
as Henry Clark
Carl Rush
as Robert Borland
Iain Gardiner
as Officer Matthews
Bogdan Koca
as Paul Broussard
Sue Dwyer
as Mrs. Broussard
Lance Medlin
as Dan O'Reilly
Boris Brkic
as Officer Halloway
Robert Morgan
as Sergeant Lawrence
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Proposition

Critic Reviews for The Proposition

All Critics (124) | Top Critics (37)

A beautifully shot tracker's western that brings the Fordian poles of garden and desert to bear on the bushrangers' Outback, this is also a revenge drama of substantial horror.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A visionary tale of a fragile civilizing impulse crushed by family loyalty and a lust for revenge in the vast Outback of the late 19th century.

Full Review… | June 22, 2006
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

John Hillcoat's violence-probing Western feels as uncompromisingly bleak, royally widescreen and graphically violent as any Sam Peckinpah opus - a sunburned, grimy-nailed saga of point-blank executions and blood wrung from a cat o' nine tails.

Full Review… | September 17, 2010

Ferocious yet free of shallow misanthropy

Full Review… | August 30, 2009

What the characters have in common--the only thing they have in common, really--is the desire for community amid the well-founded expectation of imminent, violent death.

Full Review… | August 21, 2009

ustralian-born singer/songwriter Nick Cave pens his second film (after "Ghosts ... Of The Civil Dead") and generates a prescient allegory about imperialism.

Full Review… | April 19, 2009

Audience Reviews for The Proposition


A balanced and compact movie. Not too much information, no unnecessary dialog, no extensive character building. Good soundtrack.
A friend of mine said I should see it because I said I wasn't a fan of Guy Pierce, but he was alright. I sure am itching to see him in Lawless!

Saskia D.

Super Reviewer


Nick Cave writes a unflinchingly brutal tale of the Australian Outback circa 1880 when the British Empire was molding the wilderness into its own likeness. Excellent performances carry the sometimes difficult poetic language of civilisation headbutting savagery.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


I can't say I've seen many westerns, but from what I have seen I can tell I want to see some more. 'The Propsotion' is an Australian western about Charlie Burns' (Guy Pearce) journey to save his brother from being hanged by handing in his other brother Arthur (Danny Houston). Arthur however is a well known cowboy bad man wanted for multiple accounts of rape and murder, who likes to reside on villages the police are scared to enter.

The main part of the film is about Charlie Burn's journey up to the mountains to find his brother, it mainly revolves around walking really slowly on a horse so the camera man can go to town on the scenery, and go to town he does, the film is spectacular to look at. These scenes of gentle horse trotting however are contrated against by strong scenes of violence and general face exploding action, which is nice.

The film picks up once most of the walking is over and turns into an interesting thought provoking film about brotherhood and loyalty. It also has an awesome ending.

Cameron Sherwell
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer

The Proposition Quotes

– Submitted by Nigel M (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)

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