Four-lettered cancer trek
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.