Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) has given Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) a choice: Either he kills big brother Arthur (Danny Huston), or he's forced to watch his little brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) get hanged on Christmas Day. Hell of a dilemma – but that's what happens when your family is a collective of outlaws wanted for the grisly murder of a colonial family.

Charlie isn't the only one with something to think about, though: If anything, Captain Stanley is in an even more uncomfortable position, having to balance Charlie's interests against the wishes of his wife (Emily Watson) and his bloodthirsty fellow townspeople.

The Proposition – a filthy, uncomfortable and unflinching look at frontier Australia if ever there was one – delivers one tense call after another. Balling together a great cast, buckets of grit and a phenomenal script (written by renowned balladeer Nick Cave) into a film that wastes not a single one of its 114 minutes.

Why a major studio never picked this up for wider release may be the biggest head-scratcher of all, but bravo to First Look for snapping it up and treating it right.

Extras: Writer/director commentary, five behind-the-scenes features, photo gallery.

Grade: A