Last cab to Darwin

Last cab to Darwin is what I would describe as a road movie about euthanasia. I know it does not sound very appealing, but the film is not as morbid as it sounds. It stars veteran Australian actor Michael Caton as Rex Macrae, an aging taxi driver who learns that he has stomach cancer and that he has at most only three months to live. Beside his dog (Rex named his dog ‘Dog’ because ‘Rex’ was already taken) and a few drinking buddies, he has nobody left. But there’s also Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf), Rex’s aboriginal neighbour and occasional lover. Rex wants nothing to do with hospitals as he hopes to end his life with dignity. That’s when he hears about Dr. Nicole Farmer (the great Jacki Weaver). Reg Cribb’s play Last cab to Darwin is based on the true story of taxi driver Max Bell, and upon the Rights of the terminally ill Act 1995. The Act was passed by the Northern Territory legislative assembly of Australia in 1995, making assisted suicide legal only in said Northern Territory. The Federal parliament repealed it two years later. In the film, if he wants to meet Dr. Farmer, Rex Macrae has to travel 3000 km from his small village of Broken Hill to the Northern Territory capital of Darwin. Along the road there is a lot of drinking. And Rex meets and befriends young indigenous hitchhiker Tilly (Mark Coles Smith). Without spoiling it, I can say that they have many adventures. And then Julie (Emma Hamilton) joins them for the last leg of the trip. Julie happens to be an English nurse seeking a new life in Australia. The corny thing to say about that type of films is that ‘ it is not a film about death, but about life’, or some such BS. In  reality the topic does not matter. What matters is Last cab to Darwin has a good cast, young and old. Michael Caton is the big draw here. He and Ningali Lawford-Wolf are an endearing couple. In addition there is the beautiful Australian desert landscapes provided by Steve Arnold’s photography. The sunsets and sunrise are particularly effective. The lively, twangy bluegrass Ed Kuepper score puts us in the right mood. Not a masterpiece, but still pretty good. As for euthanasia, a film is not going to change anyone’s opinion, including mine.

Quote: “If I were to keep a pet animal in the same condition I am in, I would be prosecuted. If you disagree with voluntary euthanasia, then don’t use it, but don’t deny the right to me to use it.” Bob Dent, 66. He ended his life by physician assisted suicide under the Rights of the terminally ill Act 1995 legislation. Dent suffered from Prostate cancer for five years in what he called “a rollercoaster of pain”.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Last cab to Darwin

Directed by:
Jeremy Sims

Screenplay by:
Reg Cribb
Jeremy Sims
Based on Cribb’s play

Starring:
Michael Caton
Nigali Lawford-Wolf
Jacki Weaver
Emma Hamilton
Mark Coles Smith
David Field
John Howard
Alan Dukes

123 min.

Rated 14A

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