Jeremy Sims | 2015
English 123 minutes
With: Michael Caton, Ningali Lawford, Mark Coles Smith, Emma Hamilton, Jacki Weaver
Based on the successful stage play by Reg Cribb, Last Cab to Darwin tells the story of 70-year-old taxi driver Rex (Michael Caton), who is diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. Rex leaves his loved ones behind, and sets out on a 3,000-mile journey to Darwin in a bid to die on his own terms. Along the way he discovers that before you end your life you’ve got to live it, and to live it you’ve got to learn to share it.
Along the way, he picks up the smooth-talking Tilly (aboriginal actor Mark Coles Smith), who is also headed north with dreams of starting a football career. Thus does the euthanasia movie meet the buddy/road movie, a pairing actually encountered once before in Goodbye Solo, although in that case it was the passenger wanting to end it. Rex claims to have no family, but he leaves behind a grumpy neighbour (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) who is clearly the love of his late life.
Gorgeous cinematography from Steve Arnold captures the otherworldly beauty of the Outback as Rex and Tilly bisect the continent. There are sunsets and vistas stunning enough to make a suicidal man think twice; not to mention a few signs, like the literal one at the side of the highway, declaring that all roads are open . But Sims isn’t trying to preach here. Last Cab to Darwin is in fact based on the stories of two terminally ill men who sought the treatment; one of them ultimately went through with it and one did not. Both are long dead now, but the film makes the gentle suggestion that what matters more than how you choose to go is what you do in the meantime.