THE story of an ageing man facing his mortality opens the euthanasia debate in this Australian road trip, Last Cab to Darwin.
Rex (Michael Caton) is a lonely Broken Hill cab driver who lives a reasonably simple life; his home is modest and he spends his down time at the pub with his mates.
He is, however, having a secret affair with his indigenous neighbour Polly (Ningali Lawford), hiding it from his narrow-minded peers and nosey neighbours.
When Rex finds out he has cancer and only has three months to live, he wants to avoid decaying in hospital beds and die on his owns terms.
An opportunity to do so arises when he hears about Darwin-based Dr Farmer�s (Jacki Weaver) controversial machine that allows dying patients to euthanize themselves.
Rex jumps in his cab to drive the 3000km to Darwin to be the first volunteer to use the machine, leaving a heartbroken Polly behind.
Caton and Lawford deliver affecting performances in this tearjerker about two people with a deep connection whose relationship is threatened.
Director Jeremy Sims delicately handles the euthanasia debate, demonstrating the shades of grey between both sides of the fence, and the difficulty in achieving self-determination.
Sims also weaves in the underlying racism without betraying the debate and balances the issues with heart, warmth and humour.
While the structure of the road trip story is overly familiar, it is the characters and their predicament that makes this one of the more moving in the genre and one of the best Australian films of the year.
Last Cab to Darwin (M)
Directed by: Jeremy Sims
Starring: Michael Caton, Ningali Lawford, Jacki Weaver
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas today