"Meaning does not come to us in finished form, ready-made; it must be found, created, received, and constructed. We grow our way toward it."
— Ann Bedford Ulanov
Rex (Michael Caton) has been driving a cab for most of his life. He has never ventured out of the small Australian mining town of Broken Hill where he lives alone with his dog named Dog. After work, he spends time in the pub with his mates -- Simmo (John Howard), Col (Alan Dukes), and Dougie (David Field). His only other meaningful relationship is with Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf), a feisty aboriginal woman who lives across the road from him. They have kept their sexual relationship a secret from the community.
When Rex is told that he has a terminal case of stomach cancer and only three months to live, he doesn't share the news with anybody. With a consuming aversion to the idea of dying in a hospital, he leaps at the chance to end his life with dignity by taking advantage of a pending law allowing voluntary euthanasia in the Northern Territory.
Rex decides to drive his taxi straight across the desert to Darwin. He plans to be the first volunteer for Dr. Farmer (Jacki Weaver) who has designed a machine that allows a dying person to record his/her consent and then to administer a death-dealing drug to him- or herself. Rex boldly calls her on a radio interview show and informs her that he is heading her way.
On the road, Rex encounters a colorful group of outback characters. Tilly (Mark Coles Smith) is a black fella drifter with a gift for football, an addiction to liquor, and a propensity for getting beat up. He is married and has two children. This outspoken young man is against Rex's plans to end his life and throughout their journey across the outback they struggle with their clashing values.
"Existence will remain meaningless for you if you yourself do not penetrate into it with active love, and if you do not in this way discover its meaning for yourself. Everything is waiting to be hallowed by you."
— Martin Buber
Last Cab to Darwin is directed by Jeremy Sims based on Reg Cribb's stage play. It is a wonderful story of how death and dying can become a spiritual teacher for those who are willing to open their hearts and minds to this unusual source of wisdom. Sims has skillfully framed Rex's spiritual journey as a quest for love and meaning.
Besides being befriended by Tilly, the veteran cab driver receives the medical care and attention he so desperately needs from Julie (Emma Hamilton), a young woman from London who has worked as a nurse. She provides the nurturing he needs as he draws close to his date with death. Both Tilly and Julie's spirits are lifted by Rex's positive response to sunsets and the wonder of the world around him.
The best thing about Last Cab to Darwin is the protagonist's growth toward meaning by reaching out to Polly and others in love. Michael Caton (The Castle) gives an intense and moving performance as an archetypal male elder who is awed by the realization that everything in life is awaiting to be hallowed by him.