n. hoop·la fac·tor|
degree of entertainment attained irrespective of critical worth
|Country: Australia / UK|
|Writer: Nick Cave|
|Director: John Hillcoat|
|Cast: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Emily Watson|
The Australia on show here is already in decline. An all-pervading sense of abandonment and futility resounds throughout the film, as the characters from multiple backgrounds all do their best to survive in the unforgiving outback.
The performances are universally impressive. Charlie (Guy Pearce – Till Human Voices Wake Us) and Arthur (Danny Huston - Birth), despite being the central characters of the piece, don't actually have that much to say, and spend most of their time looking into the horizon. Ray Winstone (King Arthur) and Emily Watson (Punch Drunk Love) really have the strongest relationship in the film, and Cave has succeeded in making the audience sympathise with all involved. There are no clear solutions for the characters of The Proposition. Actually, there's just a whole lot of wrong decisions. John Hurt proves that he was vastly under utilised in The Skeleton Key, with a hyperactive performance seemingly in contradiction to his age. For me David Wenham (Van Helsing) was a bit of a non-event, and for some reason Noah Taylor (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) appears very briefly in the beginning.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' score is a fundamental part of the film's effectiveness, and is a brave and original accompaniment to the visuals. One moment we are drifting along with Cave's lilting voice, as he recites poetry, and the next our ears are met with harsh screeching akin to some industrial wail of despair.
Chock full of symbolism, The Proposition could be accused of heavy handedness. But this is a powerful story told in broad brushstrokes, not subtle detailing. Actions speak the loudest here, often literally, with the burst of gunfire or the crunch of bones.
John Hillcoat's third feature I'm sure will prove to be his most successful. Ghosts... of the Civil Dead is highly respected, however To Have and To Hold seemed almost ashamed of its genre and suffered from a poor script. The Proposition embraces the Western tradition and takes it somewhere fresh and exciting. A vision of decay that is distinctly Australian.
Review by Stuart Wilson, 2nd October 2005Hoopla Factor:
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