I was looking forward to seeing Last Cab to Darwin on so many levels and I have to say all the expectation boxes were ticked.
The film is about an older man, a cab driver living in a little town called Broken Hill, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Coincidentally at the same time he hears about euthanasia being offered by a doctor in Darwin and sets off to find the doctor thinking this might be the answer to his fears and prayers, only to find that his own expectations are also surprised and tested. Jeremy Sims directs the film.
Michael Caton plays Rex, the cab driver superbly, an actor who is well known in Australia for a variety of roles he has portrayed. The depth of character he puts into this lonely yet lovable cab driver is complex and engaging. There are moments where you think he is at the absolute end of his endurance, other moments when he steps in like a guardian angel helping an Aboriginal young man who he picks up along his journey called Tilly, played by Mark Coles Smith. There are moments full of pathos and plenty of self-deprecating humour of the best Aussie kind.
He has a relationship with Polly his neighbour who he affectionately calls Pol, played by Ningali Crawford. She is a wonderful larger than life figure who gives as good as she gets and the opening scene of her shouting and screaming at him because he has used her dustbin is a wonderful introduction to all that is to come, nothing less than explosive and challenging and at times positively gob smacking. The dialogue is lively and real and there is no shortage of favourite short acronyms and expletives. We are introduced to a faithful band of friends, who are irreverent and solid but step up to the plate when the need presents itself. Rex has a dog too and the only time I felt horribly uncomfortable in the film is when I thought the dog was going to be disposed of. Mercifully the director did not allow for that to happen and I could once more breathe easily, sink back into my comfortable cinema armchair and take in the beautiful scenery.
Not only is this an appealing storyline, there are also plenty of scenes which are breathtaking and just what you would expect of the Australian outback. Endless roads, red earth, scrub and dust. At times you could almost be lifting your hand to your forehead to wipe the dust off yours.
There is hardly anything I would fault in this film and if you get a chance you should definitely go and see it. If I pushed myself to be critical I would say it was a tad too long, (but actually I enjoyed it) and the "return" was stretching it a little, given previously we saw him in a very bad way, but perhaps he drew strength from the encouragement of his new friend Julie, played by Emma Hamilton and all that he had left behind; a bit like us drawing strength from an ending which we find pleasing in a story which could have descended into something mawkish. So rest assured you will walk out and feel that this has been life affirming and lifting in a way you didn't quite expect.