Wednesday 18 February 2009

The Proposition

William Hurt is an actor I’ve admired ever since I came across him in that brilliant movie Body Heat. He was superb as the not very competent lawyer Ned Racine, and in the years that have followed, his acting range has earned him well-deserved acclaim.

In The Proposition, set in Boston in the 1930s (the film came out ten years ago and is not to be confused with an action thriller of the same name), Hurt plays the part of an apparently chilly and very wealthy man called Arthur Barret. Arthur is highly successful and is married to a beautiful writer with feminist inclinations (Madeleine Stowe.) The snag is that Arthur is sterile. He wants an heir and his wife wants to give birth to her own child. So they come up with a proposition – an intelligent young man will be recruited to impregnate Mrs Barret, and paid handsomely on the basis that he has no claim upon the child.

Needless to say, this dodgy arrangement runs into all kinds of trouble. Further complications ensue when a recently appointed priest, played by Kenneth Branagh, starts to take a less than altruistic interest in Arthur’s wife. And it turns out that the priest has a secret of his own to hide.

The story involves a murder, but it would be a stretch to call it a crime movie. From the start, the music very definitely signals that this is not a mystery, and it must be said that the film suffers from a certain lack of pace, even though there are several moments of high drama. But although it wasn’t what I was expecting, I found it a watchable and thought-provoking drama, with acting of high quality.

1 comment:

crimeficreader said...

Thanks for higlighting that one Martin, it had passed me by and sounds like a movie I'd enjoy. I thought Hurt was also great in Gorky Park and The Big Chill. I really should should watch them again sometime, but now I also have to get my hands on The Proposition...