LAST CAB TO DARWIN
Rex (Michael Caton) is a cab driver who has never left Broken Hill. When he discovers he only has three months to live, he decides to drive through the heart of Australia to Darwin where he has heard he can die on his own terms in light of the recently passed euthanasia laws. But along the way he discovers that before you can end your life, you have to live it and to live it, you have to learn to share it.
Review by Louise Keller:
Set on a true blue backdrop, black and white multi-cultural themes are examined in this gentle Aussie drama, although the issues of life, death and relationships are anything but black and white. It's well meaning and there is no shortage of heart, yet Jeremy Sims' film never quite delivers the warm package it intends. To its credit, it excels at observations of Australian culture, attitudes and behavior, but false notes prise us out of the overlong narrative, which lags where it should be contemplative and moving. Nonetheless, in adapting Reg Cribb's stage play for the screen, Cribb and Sims have lovingly created a wonderful scenario of contradictory characters that for the most part are rich with unexpected complexity. (Jeremy Sims' Last Train to Freo was also adapted from Reg Cribb's stage play.)
It's a close-knit community in the outpost town of Broken Hill, where Rex (Michael Caton) is the local taxi driver. The beer-swilling, blokey characters with big hearts as played by David Field, John Howard and Alan Dukes are familiar and credible. It takes some time to fully understand the unpredictable relationship between Rex and his neighbor Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf). Polly, who lives in the house opposite, is an explosive, warm-hearted Aboriginal woman, who on one hand screams at craggy, easy-going Rex; the next minute, she pours him tea, her hand holds his and they share a comfortable silence. The film relies on this odd-couple relationship and both Caton and Lawford-Wolf deliver wonderful performances, with much of the emotional impact resulting from the nuances between them, the conversations and their silences.
Less successful is Jackie Weaver's Dr Nicole Farmer, the Darwin euthanasia advocate who is looking for her first patient, following the change in local legislation. The way the character is written never rings true, which perhaps is why Weaver's interpretation is also less than credible. The film plays road movie in which Rex, after having been told he only has three months to live, drives his cab for the 3,000 km haul from Broken Hill to Darwin. There are stops on the way, when the other two key characters are introduced. Tilly (Mark Coles Smith) is a wildcard: an Aboriginal man who embraces excess and hasn't discovered discipline. Julie (Emma Hamilton) is an adventurous English backpacker eager to embrace life.
The Australian outback landscape is striking as are the blue skies and the sunsets. The sobering subject matter sets the tone, although there it is amusing at times with its unpredictable narrative and there is a quirky juxtaposition of the characters and their relationships. Choices and embracing the ones you love are the underlying themes.
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LAST CAB TO DARWIN (M)
CAST: Michael Caton, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Mark Coles Smith, Emma Hamilton, David Field, John Howard, Alan Dukes and Jackie Weaver
PRODUCER: Greg Duffy, Lisa Duff, Jeremy Sims
DIRECTOR: Jeremy Sims
SCRIPT: Reg Cribb and Jeremy Sims (stageplay by Reg Cribb)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steve Arnold ACS
EDITOR: Marcus D'arcy
MUSIC: Ed Kuepper
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Jauncey
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 6, 2015