A taxi with a shattered windshield pulls over to the side of the road. A rugged man gets out, stunned by the sight of the pussy willow hung with the rotting corpses of feral cats. The camera zooms out, revealing that this gut-wrenching sight is at the end of a rainbow. This is not the end of the man’s journey, but he will meet a kindred spirit, both of whom will change each other’s lives forever…
The man is Rex MacRae. He is on an odyssey across Australia to Darwin, where euthanasia has recently been legalized. A reserved cab driver who has never left his hometown of Broken Hill, Rex chooses to leave behind his friends and Polly, his boisterous neighbor-turned-lover to avoid a slow, hospital-ridden death of stomach cancer. On his travels he meets the shrewd and colorful man Tilly, along with the considerate and determined nurse Julie, who acts as the emotional shepherd of the film.
Rex’s journey is very much about perspective, shown to us in a way that allows those unfamiliar with Australia’s majestic landscapes to discover them for the first time along with him. Many shots are from his point of view as he drives, to the point that the screen goes black when he falls asleep at the wheel. We come away from the film with memories of sights such as the burnt red ground against the deep blue sky, and dilapidated structures glowing under the rays of the golden sun. Meanwhile, the story unfolds of how Rex newly finds meaning by connecting with and helping others. The sense of perspective the movie brings allows us to better appreciate what Rex learns throughout the film— “before you can end your life you’ve got to live it, and to live it you’ve got to share it.” —as the promotional materials from OVID.tv summarize.
The presence of aboriginal characters such as Polly and Tilly is used to great effect, in this writer’s opinion, as a method to explore race relations in the 1970s. Though it is clear that Rex and Polly love each other very deeply, Rex avoids any hints at their relationship publicly in order to avoid unwanted attention. By framing issues such as euthanasia and racism as something for our characters to tackle, the film prompts us to think about their real-world implications without giving a clear answer to the questions that arise. This aspect of the film is aided in no small part by the stellar performance of Ningali Lawford-Wolf as the charming Polly, managing to portray a character in equal parts intense and sentimental.
OVID.tv Australian Film May Sound Foreign to American Ears
This reviewer found the film to be enthralling, notwithstanding dialogue that felt undistinguishable at certain points. For American viewers like this writer who lack familiarity with Australian dialect, the music frequently overpowering the more subdued voices, most notably that of Rex, might similarly pose a challenge. Unfortunately, subtitles for this film are not provided by Ovid.tv, so viewers with hearing issues may need to look elsewhere.
Given the heavy subject matter, this film will not be for everyone. For those who are particularly sensitive to the topic of euthanasia and those seeking a more lighthearted movie, this may not be for you. With that in mind, those willing and able to tackle the issues presented by the film will find a thoughtful and heartwarming movie that is gripping from beginning to end. Recommended for those who want a more contemplative story and a reminder of what they might appreciate in life.
Director: Jeremy Sims
Mark Coles Smith
For more information or to view this film, visit the OVID.tv webpage for LAST CAB TO DARWIN
Images courtesy of OVID.tv.
About the Author:
Connor Grehan is a History and Film student at Vassar College. A longtime music student, he plays the French Horn, participating in the school orchestra and even a whistling a capella group. He likes to read books and play video games in his spare time, organizing tournaments and other events at school.