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:: Last Cab To Darwin

Jeremy Sims (director) and Reg Cribb (writer) came upon a news article about Rex Bell a cab driver from Broken Hill back in the early 2000's. Rex had been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and his prognosis was not good. Rex subsequently heard of the new Euthanasia Bill being passed in the Northern Territory which, under strict supervision, gave a patient the right to end their life. Rex, wanting a painless exit, jumped in his cab and headed for Darwin.

Cribb first retold the story as a play of the same name in 2003. Sims has been by his side throughout the retelling of Rex's legendary story and so it was inevitable it would become a feature film. Sims deserves great credit for the film and the telling of this sentimental story. It's a close-knit community in the town of Broken Hill, where Rex (Michael Caton) is the local taxi driver. The beer-swilling, blokey characters with big hearts as played by David Field, John Howard and Alan Dukes are familiar and credible. There is the unpredictable relationship between Rex and his neighbour Polly (Ningali Lawford). Polly, who lives in the house opposite, is an explosive, warm-hearted Aboriginal woman, who on one hand screams at craggy, easy-going Rex; the next minute, she pours him tea, they hold hands, and there is a comfortable silence. The film relies on this odd-couple relationship and both Caton and Lawford-Wolf deliver wonderful performances,

The vast Australian outback landscape is striking as are the blue skies and the sunsets. There are stops on the way, when two other key characters are introduced. Tilly (Mark Coles Smith) is a wildcard: an Aboriginal man who embraces excess and hasn't discovered discipline. Julie (Emma Hamilton) is an adventurous English backpacker eager to embrace life.

The film depicts our raw environment in such compassionate terms. Sure the length could have been shortened a little, and perhaps Jacki Weaver didn't look right as the Darwin doctor but, overall, Last Cab To Darwin is told with good humour and the right amount of pathos. It's a film for the world to enjoy but it is hoped that Australians can truly enjoy the Australian spirit that the filmmakers shape through a sentimental journey.