Four-let­tered can­cer trek

The Tribune (NZ) - - MOVIES -

It’s doubt­ful you could en­counter a more earthy Aussie drama than this one. Last Cab to Dar­win is quite likely the only cab driven north to Dar­win from the town of Bro­ken Hill in New South Wales, and is a tear-jerker to boot.

It touches on the Aussie thirst (as in the con­stant need for a stub­bie in hand), abo­rig­i­nal is­sues, the heat of the out­back, even Aussie Rules footie, and is un­nec­es­sar­ily foul­mouthed through­out, so be ready.

While some of it is a lit­tle cheesy, there are un­der­ly­ing mes­sages ev­ery­where.

Rex (Michael Ca­ton – The Castle, Packed To The Rafters) is a hard-bit­ten old cab driver in Bro­ken Hill way out in the weeds. Di­ag­nosed with stom­ach can­cer, he isn’t pre­pared to put up with a painful fi­nal three months.

It’s the mid-1990s, and Rex hears the North­ern Ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ment is to en­act a law al­low­ing eu­thana­sia, so con­tacts a doc­tor in Dar­win who seems pre­pared to do the deed.

He then de­cides to drive the 3200-odd kilo­me­tres from Bro­ken Hill to Dar­win.

Sim­i­lar to Clint East­wood in

Gran Torino, Ca­ton ex­pertly car­ries off the role of the gruff loner with a kind heart.

Abo­rig­i­nals play a ma­jor, some­times hu­mor­ous, part. Across the street from Rex is plump Polly (Nin­gali Law­ford) who is also sim­i­larly like­able, with a foghorn of a voice.

En­route to Dar­win, Rex en­coun­ters another in­cor­ri­gi­ble abo­rig­i­nal lad, Tilly, skil­fully played by Mark Coles-Smith, and kind-hearted English bar­maid-nurse (Emma Hamil­ton).

The di­rec­tor ob­vi­ously used the eff­ing lingo for ef­fect but it’s hard to imag­ine the Dar­win doc, played by Jacki Weaver em­ploy­ing it so fre­quently.

Based on the 2003 stage play de­rived from a true story, the sub­ject is sad and hard to... well stom­ach at times, but it gets the mes­sage across. By the way, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment over­turned North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s eu­thana­sia leg­is­la­tion.


Michael Ca­ton as swears-like-a-trooper can­cer-af­flicted Rex, a cab­bie who drives more than 3000 kilo­me­tres to es­cape his fate.

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