Michael Caton stars as cabbie, Rex, in Jeremy Sims’ Last Cab to Darwin. The story of a loner who following a failed operation is given a terminal cancer diagnosis. Shocked but resolute, he makes the decision to embark on an epic drive through the Australian outback from Broken Hill to Darwin to die with dignity and on his own terms under the Northern Territory’s euthanasia laws.
But ending his life means first reflecting on it and he soon realizes that the very spice of life is the experiences one shares with others. Rex soon realizes he has to truly find life before he can face death.
On his tumultuous trip, he meets English backpacker and bartender, Julie (Emma Hamilton) and the refreshing and charming young traveller, Tilly (Mark Coles Smith) both of whom give stellar performances. Directed by Jeremy Sims (Last Train to Freo) and based on the play of the same name, the story is loosely based on the real life story of Max Bell, who drove the same route in the early nineties with the same intention. It is also loosely based on Bob Dent, the first Australian to die from a legal, voluntary lethal injection in the Northern Territory in 1996.
Caton gives a rather heartbreaking and raw performance as Rex, with Jackie Weaver also strong in her role as the Darwin doctor pushing euthanasia laws and Ningali Lawford-Wolf (Bran Nue Dae, Rabbit Proof Fence) also delivers as Polly, Rex’s neighbour and secret lover. Undeniably Australian and littered with bittersweet moments, wry humour and moments of reflection and set against Australia’s striking outback, this is a journey that anyone who watches will benefit from. Truly living versus merely surviving is the biggest theme here and one that everyone can relate to. This role is a far cry from The Castle’s Darryl “tell him he’s dreamin’” Kerrigan but Caton delivers this role with such a familiar warmth, vulnerability and affability that you cannot help but enjoy the ride.