Guy Pearce did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Charlie Burns in The Proposition.
Guy Pearce portrays the outlaw given the proposition that he seems to accept, and goes off to find his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) while his younger brother Mikey is being held to be hung if Charlie does not kill his brother by Christmas. Pearce portrays one of the two leads in this film, which is a very interesting film in that although there are flamboyant performances in the film from a great number of the supporting cast particularly Danny Huston, and John Hurt as a racist Bounty Hunter, but the leads of the film both give rather understated performances.
Pearce portrays Charlie Burns as a reserved man and does well to show the life of the man is reflected in his face. In the film we only learn of rather limited information about the Burns boys and their endeavors of outlaws. We never do learn exactly how much Charlie and Mikey were really involved with the crimes ascribed to Arthur, but Pearce does well in creating his own history of Charlie through his performance. He portrays Charlie as a rather hard man, certainly with his own wealth of less than savory experiences that seems to have permanently tarnished his expression to at least some degree.
The Proposition is an interesting film in that really one can sympathize with both leads, even though they are in a way at opposite ends. Pearce though allows us to easily follow Charlie through his half of the story as well as sympathize with him by portraying that the driving force that propels him in this story is his concern for his younger brother. Pearce is very strong in creating the strong need Charlie has to protect his brother. In the film itself Charlie says very little in regards to how deeply he cares about, but Pearce very powerfully portrays the very emphatic need Charlie feels to do what is best for his brother.
Pearce really says very little throughout the film, in fact most of the time he is looking at others studying them in some way. Pearce is especially adept at portraying the feelings within Charlie without saying very much at all during his performance. His very best scenes involving this come in all of his scenes with Danny Huston as Charlie's deranged older brother. Pearce is almost completely silent in these scenes but he is perfect in conveying the struggle within Charlie during these scenes on whether or not to kill his older brother to save his younger. Pearce is excellent because he portrays a distaste for his brother, yet at the same time the two actors properly establish a familiarity between the two.
Guy Pearce is a strong presence throughout the film, but his best scenes come at the very end of the film when Charlie finally does choose to act. Pearce is perfect in the last moments of the film portraying the part still very quietly but with tremendous impact as he shows quickly Charlie's grief for his younger brother that quickly becomes a passionate anger against Charlie's older brother. His fierce stare, and his delivery of "no more" Pearce absolutely delivers the necessary impact the final scene of the film deserves, and as well he creates the proper resolution between the relationship between the two brothers.
Guy Pearce gives a very good performance here as the co-lead of the film, and fulfills his half of the film extremely well. Pearce although underplays his role very throughout the film but he does not fail to stand out just the same. Even in scenes with far more extroverted characterizations Pearce never allows himself to be overshadowed in the film. He stays firm in the film doing well in his assured, and realistic reactions in the film. In a way Pearce through his work here even allows the performances of Hurt, and Huston the impact they should through the way he reserves himself in the film. Yet Pearce even in his minimalist approach still creates a remarkable portrait of this outlaw.