Quaintly retro, this formulaic period piece made an exotic addition to the domestic direct-to-video shelf in 1997.
In early 19th-century England, the Napoleonic Wars have taken their toll on beautiful aristocrat Catherine Morgan (Theresa Russell). Her adventurer husband has perished, leaving their country estate bankrupt unless Catherine weds the high-born Huw Williams (Richard Lynch), appointed sheriff of the
region, who has long desired her. Proud and independent, Catherine instead intends to sell her 200 cattle in distant Gloucester. The problem is that most able-bodied menfolk have gone soldiering, and Catherine must beg Huw's despised bastard half-brother Rhys (Patrick Bergin), a hard-drinking
rustic, to be her herdsman. He accepts only after someone, apparently Huw, sets fire to his fields. Even then, Rhys strikes a dire bargain with Catherine: as a slap at Huw, he can exact sexual attentions from the haughty noblewoman at the journey's end. During the cattle drive, however, Catherine
and Rhys grow fond of each other despite the immense gulf in their social status. She orders him off alcohol; he brings her off her snobbish perch. When wealthy friends of Catherine's welcome them for a night in their mansion, Catherine willingly makes love with Rhys. Unfortunately, she chooses
that interval to confess she, not Huw, torched his land, to leave Rhys no option but to help her. After some bad feelings, Catherine convinces Rhys that the rigors of the trip have made a new woman out of her, and she sincerely wants to marry him. It's all too much for dastardly Huw, who has been
following the cattle drive. Just outside Gloucester he tries to scatter the herd and kill Rhys, only to end up fatally gored on a bull's horn.
The somewhat inept, blood-and-thunder finale (which, sure enough, takes place during a "dark and stormy night") is the weakest part of THE PROPOSITION. Otherwise director Strathford Hamilton steers a handsome package of romantic kitsch-on-the-hoof, with suitable atmosphere from the verdant Welsh
locations and good performances from his actors--even the San Diego-born Theresa Russell (BLACK WIDOW, INSIGNIFICANCE), who, although the wife of British filmmaker Nicholas Roeg, seems an unlikely choice to don an English accent and tight corset for a traditional bodice-ripper. (For the record,
villain Richard Lynch is not the American actor featured in films like BAD DREAMS and SCARECROW.) The whole thing's over in a brisk 93 minutes and might even entertain those viewers whose idea of hell is a library stocked with nothing but historical-romance paperbacks. (Substance abuse, sexualsituations, nudity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: Quaintly retro, this formulaic period piece made an exotic addition to the domestic direct-to-video shelf in 1997. In early 19th-century England, the Napoleonic Wars have taken their toll on beautiful aristocrat Catherine Morgan (Theresa Russell). Her adv… (more)