[[caption-width-right:198:Arthur, Charlie, and Cpt. Stanley all [[SeanConneryIsAboutToShootYou threaten the camera.]]]]

->'''Cpt. Stanley''': Now, suppose you tell me what it is I want from you?\\
'''Charlie Burns''': You want me to kill me brother.\\
'''Cpt. Stanley''': I want you to kill your brother.

2005 Western, set in 1880s Australia. Directed by ''John Hillcoat,'' with a screenplay by rock star Music/NickCave. Cave and his bandmate Warren Ellis also wrote the soundtrack. Cave described it as a story full of beautiful sadness and longing, intercut with moments of intense violence.

Here's a rundown of the plot: Charlie Burns (Creator/GuyPearce) and his younger, mentally handicapped brother Mikey are Irish criminals in Australia. After a shootout in a brothel, they are both arrested and imprisoned. During the interrogation, Cpt. Stanley (Creator/RayWinstone) gives Charlie the titular proposition: track down and kill the oldest Burns brother, Arthur (Creator/DannyHuston, son of Creator/JohnHuston and half-brother of Creator/{{Anjelica|Huston}}), and both Charlie and Mikey will be released. Charlie is forced to choose which brother will die - the mentally handicapped and innocent child, or the protective big brother and father figure. Until then, poor Mikey will remain in the Banyon Jail, and if the job is not done by Christmas Day, Mikey will be hanged and the manhunt for Charlie and Arthur will resume.

Also stars Creator/EmilyWatson as the sensitive Martha Stanley, Creator/DavidWenham as the pillar of the community Eden Fletcher, and Creator/JohnHurt as the insane old bounty hunter Jellon Lamb.

Cave, Ellis, and Hillcoat also collaborate on the 2009 film ''Film/TheRoad'', and again on 2012's ''Film/{{Lawless}}''.

!!This Aussie Western includes examples of:

* AxCrazy: Arthur and Sam.
* BedouinRescueService: Inverted. The Aborigines throw a spear into Charlie, and he is rescued by Arthur.
* BigBrotherInstinct: Drives the motivations of both Charlie and Arthur. And then it turns out that [[spoiler: Arthur couldn't care less]].
* BittersweetEnding: Compared to most stories, it's a DownerEnding. Compared with anything else Music/NickCave has written, it's pretty happy.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Although only one or two characters in the whole film qualify on the "gray" side. [[CrapsackWorld And they don't get to do a whole lot of heroic things throughout.]]
* BlackBestFriend: Both Stanley and Arthur have one, although Jacko and Two-Bob are Aborigines, not African blacks. In fact, [[spoiler: Two-Bob stabs Jacko to death for working with the white policemen who routinely massacre other Aborigines. "Here's your knife back, ya dog."]]
* BountyHunter: Jellon Lamb.
* BoxedCrook: Charlie is used by Captain Stanley to track down his brother. Fletcher is quite unhappy about the idea of letting a criminal loose in order to catch a worse one.
* CainAndAbel: Down to their first initials; C and A. Ironically, the one with the "A" name is ''[[AxCrazy much]]'' worse.
* ClusterFBomb
* CueTheSun
* CrucifiedHeroShot: Of Mikey (not really the hero, but still a victim figure) being flogged. If you listen carefully, you'll also notice that he's only given [[AsTheGoodBookSays 39 lashes]] out of the full 100 by the end of the scene.
* DamselInDistress: Martha, at the end.
* DisposableSexWorker: No-one appears bothered by the death of the Chinese prostitutes killed in the opening shootout.
* DreamingOfAWhiteChristmas: It's Australia, so it's a broiling hot summer. It doesn't stop Captain Stanley and Martha from imagining they are at home in England. At one point, Martha even uses cotton as snowflakes.
* EmpathicEnvironment: Oh, the infinite and desolate plains of the Australian Outback during the blood-red sunset.
** SceneryPorn
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: Or in this case, younger brothers.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: In the backstory, Charlie and Mikey both abandoned Arthur after his MoralEventHorizon crossing. It's pretty clear that Charlie has done some bad stuff himself, but what what Arthur did was unforgivable.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: Much of the soundtrack has names like "Sad Violin Thing".
* FamousLastWords
* FauxAffablyEvil: Arthur's actions, other characters reactions and his past make it clear that he lost his affability a long time ago. In the end it turns out he doesn't even care [[spoiler: for his own family anymore]].
* GenreDeconstruction: Of TheWestern. A reviewer noted that the great authority figure in this genre, the sheriff, is emasculated here. It's most evident in the scenes where Captain Stanley has his authority completely undermined by Eden Fletcher, and is reduced to a pathetic bystander.
* HangingJudge: The pointlessly cruel Eden Fletcher.
* IWasJustPassingThrough
* JudgeJuryAndExecutioner: Stanley and Fletcher fight over this.
* KarmaHoudini: Fletcher.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: Arthur is a brutal psychopath, yes, but no one had any problem with his killing Sergeant Matthews. And then there's what he does to Jellon Lamb, in contrast. Yes, Lamb is a horrible man, but ColdBloodedTorture is still crossing a line.
* LandDownUnder: Played in a very un-stereotypical way
* LargeHam: Jellon Lamb when he's drunk, and Sam [[spoiler: when he's pretending to be a policeman]].
* MightyWhitey: Subverted and defied: the police think the Aborigines are sheltering Arthur, but in fact they hate and fear him. Some of them believe he's a werewolf.
* MoodDissonance: In many ways, ''The Proposition'' is a story of contrasts. The violent events and the natural beauty of the land - the outlaws even make mention of the beautiful sunset at one point. The stars in a field of blue seen from under a withered tree and then from behind prison bars. The genteel Christmas setting and the savage torture of the Stanleys at the end.
** The director has also pointed out the extreme dissonance in the "civilized" Victorian era and the violent settling of Australia. The outlaws are destroying the Victorian English attempts at beauty and order in the Australian wilderness, best represented by the trail of destruction at the end when the scruffy criminal Charlie stomps through the rose garden and the white fence.
* MoralityPet: Two-Bob implies that Arthur's brothers were this to him, and that their absence has made him worse.
* MoralMyopia: Arthur thinks like this. He loves his brothers and friends dearly, but for him, no one outside this little group is truly human.
** Fletcher seems to feel the same way, except about race and nationality, rather than Arthur's clannish sense of loyalty. Fletcher is fiercely protective of his white colonists, but utterly cavalier the lives of the Aborigines. In any story about colonialism and cultural conflict, this trope is inevitable.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: The Burns Gang, Eden Fletcher.
* ObliviouslyEvil: Martha Stanley. She coerces her husband into [[spoiler:having an essentially innocent boy flogged to death]], [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone but seems more horrified than pleased when she gets what she wanted]].
* OffstageVillainy: Actually done very well here with Arthur. When he first appears he's a charming, cultured man... and then [[spoiler:you see what he does to Jellon Lamb...]]
* OrderVersusChaos: The events of the film makes it explicit clear that Stanley can't and won't [[CatchPhrase "civilise this land"]]. It took putting chaos versus chaos to take down Arthur and destroyed any order and pretense of civilisation in the process.
* PromotionToParent: Arthur is implied to have raised Charlie and Mikey by himself.
* PoliceBrutality: While Captain Stanley is a gentleman, his men are not, to put it mildly.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Most of the characters in this movie. Both Jellon Lamb and Sam are heavily racist. Seemingly subverted with Arthur (possibly due to his FauxAffablyEvil nature) who has an [[BlackBestFriend Aborigine best friend]] and is not heard speaking ill of any race, despite being a complete psychopath. See MoralMyopia for more on that.
* PsychoForHire: Sergeant Matthews, who works under Captain Stanley. He is almost as horribly evil as any of the main villains, and leads a massacre of an aborigine village. Arthur may be worse than him, but when he murders this guy, it's his SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome.
* PunchClockVillain: The third member of Arthur's gang, Two-Bob, is a hard to hate: he is a resourceful and badass aborigine who just wants his land back, and is notably absent for Arthur and Sam's big MoralEventHorizon.
* PunctuatedPounding: "HELP! YOUR! FUCKING! SELF!"
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: Used in-universe.
-->You were right to part company with him. What happened at the Hopkins' place was unforgivable. Did you know that poor woman had a ''child in her belly''?
* RuleOfThree: The three Burns brothers.
* SadisticChoice: Right there in the premise: choose which of your brothers will live.
* SavingChristmas: The devastating climax.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: This is why Fletcher can make his own laws in the outback town.
* SeanConneryIsAboutToShootYou: Danny Huston, Guy Pearce, And Ray Winstone Are About To Shoot You
* ShoutOut: Jellon Lamb's name is likely a reference to the Scottish murder ballad "Jellon Grame", about a man who murders his pregnant girlfriend and takes her child as his own only to be murdered by said child years later, much as Charlie is forced to murder his "father", Arthur. After all, it's not like Nick Cave is ignorant about [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_Ballads murder ballads]].
* ShownTheirWork: According to the other [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Proposition Wiki]]: "As noted in behind-the-scenes features included on The Proposition DVD, the film is regarded as uncommonly accurate in depicting indigenous Australian culture of the late 1800s, and when filming in the outback, the cast and crew took great pains to follow the advice of indigenous consultants. In an interview included on the DVD, [Tom E.] Lewis even compares the depiction of indigenous cultures in The Proposition to the landmark film ''Film/TheChantOfJimmieBlacksmith'' (1978)." (Interestingly, that film's lead actor, Tom E. Lewis, plays Two-Bob in this movie.)
** A lot of behind-the-scenes work was done for this film. For example, the director John Hillcoat helped the actors prepare by giving them reading material and other sources for inspiration - Tom Budge (Sam) was given stuff about the My Lai massacre so he could get into the "war criminal" mindset, while David Wenham (Fletcher) was given books about Victorian English manners and etiquette.
* SignatureStyle: Nick Cave exercises his love of literary discussion, religious debating, and extreme amounts of violence. He even gets to work in some flowers in Martha's rose garden.
* SmugSnake: Eden Fletcher, so very much.
* SoundtrackDissonance: The hauntingly beautiful "Peggy Gordon" sung while the flogged Mikey is shrieking in agony. And again during a rape scene.
* SoWhatDoWeDoNow: [[spoiler:Arthur's last words at the end.]]
* TakeAThirdOption: Turns out not to work.
* TakeOurWordForIt: Jacko pointing out smoke on the horizon, which the white troopers can't see even when pointed out to them. We even get a shot of what Jacko sees, and if you look really, ''really'' closely, there is a tiny puff of what could be smoke.
* ATasteOfTheLash: [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill More than just a taste]]. Fletcher sentences the mentally handicapped Mikey to a hundred lashes from the cat o' nine tails. They don't even reach forty lashes before the previously baying audience have all [[NauseaFuel turned away in disgust and Mikey's back is reduced to bleeding ribbons]]. A blood-splattered Fletcher [[MoralEventHorizon still wants the full hundred lashes]].
* TitleDrop: "I wish to present you with a proposition..."
* TrojanPrisoner: Two-Bob does this to get the gang into the prison.
* TrueCompanions: Arthur's band of outlaws
* VillainsOutShopping: Or rather, reciting poetry.
* WarriorPoet: Arthur, Sam, Captain Stanley, and Jellon Lamb. As has been noted, this is a Nick Cave movie.
* WatchingTheSunset: The film's ending between [[spoiler:Charlie and his dying brother, Arthur.]]
* TheWestern
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Queenie (the female member of Arthur's gang) disappears entirely from the movie after a certain point. Fletcher doesn't appear [[spoiler: after discovering the two prison guards with their heads blown off]]
* WhatNowEnding: You were expecting anything else from Music/NickCave?
* WickedCultured: Jellon Lamb, "man of no little education", and Arthur Burns. In Arthur's case, the trope is used to humanize him, rather than its standard use as just another villainous trapping.
* YourHeadAsplode: The natural consequences of averting PrettyLittleHeadshots, as seen on one of the Aboriginals who try to kill Charlie. Sam is delighted by this.