Last Cab to Darwin has been a long time in the making. It was well worth the wait!
The film shows the last trip of terminally ill cab-driver Rex (Michael Caton). Diagnosed with stomach cancer and given three months to live, he wants to die with dignity.
He hears about forth-coming legislation which will legalise euthanasia in the Northern Territory. He discusses his situation with euthanasia advocate, Dr Nicole Farmer (Jackie Weaver) on talk-back radio and they arrange to meet in Darwin.
Abandoning his relationship with his neighbour and occasional lover, Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf), his much-loved dog, a house and a handful of mates, Rex sets off on his solo journey. From the outback town of Broken Hill, where he has lived all his life, to Darwin is a distance of 3000 kilometres.
Rex’s epic drive through outback towns references other Australian movies such as Red Dog and Sampson and Delilah. The warm beauty of the outback is captured by superb cinematography.
Rex’s trip is punctuated by misadventures and meetings. His broken windscreen is repaired by a young Aboriginal man, Tilly (Mark Coles Smith). Tilly hitches a ride in the taxi to Darwin. When Rex becomes ill in a pub, the English backpacker-barmaid-nurse, Julie (Emma Hamilton) tosses in her job to take care of him.
It is during Rex’s recurrent phone calls to the sometimes unresponsive Polly in Broken Hill that he is at his most vulnerable.
Michael Caton’s worn face, thinning hair and disheveled appearance admirably fit the part of the dying Aussie battler . Caton brings to the film a delicate balance of pathos and humour.
Reg Cribb’s original award winning play is based loosely on the story of a real-life cabbie, Max Bell, who undertook a similar journey.
This sad story might have made a grim movie. Instead, Last Cab to Darwin is a delicious road story. More than that, it is uplifting and ultimately redemptive.
Last Cab To Darwin is for release in cinemas across Australia on 6 August, 2015.
Last Cab to Darwin is a film by the makers of Last Train to Freo (2006).
Written by Reg Cribb and Jeremy Sims