Monday, 25 January 2016


“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ― Mark Twain

With Australia Day being celebrated tomorrow, I thought it’s a good idea to review an Australian film that we saw recently. It is  Jeremy Sims’ 2015 movie “Last Cab to Darwin”, starring Michael Caton, Ningali Lawford, Mark Coles Smith. The story is based on Reg Cribb’s play and it was adapted for the screen by the playwright himself and the director of the movie.

Superficially, this is a road trip movie whose main theme is death, dying but also what it means to live and live well. Cab driver Rex (Caton), is a loner and when he learns he has stomach cancer and doesn’t have long to live, he embarks on an epic journey through the Australian outback from Broken Hill to Darwin to die on his own terms. His objective is to commit euthanasia, but on the way he learns several things about himself and his life that will prove to be valuable to him, even in the very short time he has left to live.

The film was successful at the box office in Australia in 2015, with over 7 million dollars in local box office receipts, as well as gathering an equal share of critical and audience appreciation that will translate into good sales and rentals of the DVD in the years ahead. The success of the film while surely depends a great deal on the script, direction and production, largely has to thank the winning performance by Michael Caton, who possibly has delivered the best role of his career thus far.

Caton becomes Rex and sympathises with his predicament, allowing the audience to sympathise with the character and the actor. This is a great winning point in any movie, the rapport that an audience feels with the characters. Caton’s long acting career in Australia and his wide experience with both comedy and drama roles serve him well in this film as he treads a fine line between humour and pathos. As the film is 123 minutes long, the viewer’s interest is sustained, the supporting actors also creating the right ambience for Rex’s journeys, the physical one as well as the psychological/emotional one.

Ningali Lawford-Wolf plays Rex’s neighbour, Polly, and is excellent in her role. Their relationship could have been worked on a little more as Rex’s character and the way that it develops does depend a lot on their interaction. Emma Hamilton plays a backpacker from London working at a pub and she makes the most of her role, shining with intelligent and subtle support of plot and the main characters. Mark Coles Smith plays Tilly, a young indigenous man and Rex’s fellow traveller. This was a little unconvincing and relatively weak plot-wise as some clichés were unavoidable, however, the interaction between Tilly and Rex provided lots of opportunities for humour and release of dramatic tension. The other legendary Australian actor in the film was Jackie Weaver playing the unconventional GP, Dr Nicole Farmer (loosely based on real life Dr Philip Nitshke). She played well but perhaps was not the best choice for the role.

Although not a masterpiece, “Last Cab to Darwin” was enjoyable to watch, had a good mixture of strong emotion and humour, was well acted and produced and generally directed well. It covered some important topics and had its heart in the right place. The ending was perhaps weaker than the beginning and there was lapse into the clichés of similar films. Nevertheless, a good film that we recommend without reservation.

No comments:

Post a Comment