Written by Nick Cave.
Starring Ray Winstone, Guy Pearce, Emily Watson, Danny Huston and John Hurt.
Music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Adored by Bert Fischer.
Magnificent film. Cave is one of my favorite songwriters, and he wrote a very good novel about 15 years ago, so I knew this flick had the potential to be as awesome as it ended up being. It was masterfully directed by John Hillcoat, building to a conclusion that is both inevitable and gut-wrenching. The final scene is so tense, it was all I could do to keep myself from yelling at the screen.
The premise is pretty standard Western fare, even though it's set in the Australian outback rather than the American West. A reluctant outlaw is put in a position where he must choose to either let his younger brother be hanged or kill his older brother, a man responsible for a terrible crime.
Guy Pearce plays the outlaw caught in the middle. He basically plays "Blondie" from Leone's Man With No Name trilogy, but with a touch more humanity. His character is the glue that holds the story together, and he does a fine job delivering on that, but he's outshined by most of the other principals. Especially:
Ray Winstone, who plays the lawman who threatens to hang the simple-minded young kid. When the movie begins, it's easy to assume that he's going to be your archetypal rotten bastard. Through his relationship with his wife and his prisoner, his true character is revealed. Winstone gives a fantastic performance.
Danny Huston also impressed me as the older brother. He's an intelligent, well-read psychopath. A man who loves his family, and who would not raise a hand against any of them, but also a man who has no qualms about raping and murdering a pregnant woman. He runs hot and cold, light-hearted one minute, and heartless the next. In short, he's sort of terrifying.
This film really knocked me on my ass. I'm sorry that I've wasted so much time rambling on about it, but I'm not very good at describing what I think makes a movie great. I'll just sum up by saying, "Go see it."