Australia Day Film Review – Last Cab to Darwin (2015)

Last Cab to Darwin

Title – Last Cab to Darwin (2015)

Director – Jeremy Sims (Beneath Hill 60)

Cast – Michael Caton, Ningali Lawford, Mark Coles Smith, Emma Hamilton, Jacki Weaver, David Field, John Howard

Plot – Given only months to live after an aggressive cancer takes hold of his body, small town cab driver Rex (Caton) takes off on a road trip to Darwin after hearing about Dr. Farmer’s (Weaver) new euthanasia device. Along the way Rex meets young no hoper Tilly (Coles Smith) and kindly barmaid/nurse Julie (Hamilton) who start to change Rex’s dire view on life.

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life”

Review by Eddie on 26/01/2016

One of the great Australian success stories of a very profitable 2015 for local films, Jeremy Sims Last Cab to Darwin scored over 7 million dollars in local box office receipts last year and garnered an equal share of critical and audience good will that will likely see it become a staple in collections of local film lovers for years to come.

Adapting Reg Cribb’s successful stage play of the same name and casting Australian identity Michael Caton in the role that he portrayed in that very play, Sims has done a fine job at transplanting a play into a feature length film and his capturing of the dusty plains of outback Australia as Caton’s dying cab driver and lonely soul Rex heads off on a road trip from South Australia’s Broken Hill to Darwin is one of the films highlights.

But it’s not all smooth sailing for Sim’s as he finds trouble maintaining momentum in the film which starts off particularly strong and engaging but through a misguided and cliché ridden final act loses stem, particularly with a bunch of side characters that feel slightly underdeveloped and also far to “movie like” to feel real.

Caton delivers what could well be his finest ever moment as Rex a man we come to care for in a short period of time and Caton’s experience with both comedy and drama serve him well as he balances a nice line between humour and pathos. Rex’s journey (which is supposedly based around some true events) feels real and emotion filled but with the film itself set up for a 2 hour long trip, Rex’s ride to be euthanized before cancer slowly kills him gets filled with Mark Coles Smith’s (who sadly overplays) lost young man Tilly and Emma Hamilton’s English ex-pat Julie’s loving nurse and both these characters while at moments help the film along also take a little too much away from the film and it would’ve been nice to have seen them play smaller roles and Sims to have had more faith in Caton to carry the film along as he was seemingly more than up to the task.

One of the better feel good (and sad) Australian movies in some time, The Last Cab to Darwin would be an incredibly hard film to dislike and while it never breaks out into being an undeniable standout classic, its deserving of its warm reception and likely long standing place in the hearts of Australian movie goers that found themselves investing in this likeable tale of one man’s journey to find himself in world that seemingly passed him by.

3 ½ cat trees out of 5

4 responses to “Australia Day Film Review – Last Cab to Darwin (2015)

  1. I need to watch this. It is Keaton, that alone makes it worth watching.

    One question though:

    “of a very profitable 2015 for local films”

    what other Aussie films came out last year? I remember 2014 was GREAT for aussie cinema with predestination, little death, infinite man, babadook etc but this year the only Aussie movies I can think of are Manny Lewis, Ruben Guthrie and this one. What have I missed?

    • The Dressmaker, Paper Planes, Oddball – they also counted films like Water Diviner and Mad Max as Australian. And of course films like Holidng the Man and as you said Lewis and Gutherie, although sadly they weren’t overly successful.

      But I do believe they counted last year as one of if not the best ever years for Box Office figures regarding local films.
      E

      • Ahh including Water Diviner and Mad Max woulda made a difference. I totally forgot about those first three you mentioned. I unfortunately missed Holding The Man, from what I’ve read its rather good. There is even a doco about the real life people that it is based on

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