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Review: Last Cab to Darwin

The Toronto International Film Festival shows over 300 films. This is a staggering amount. Although there is talk of discovering hidden gems, there is the possibility that many films get lost, (or are never seen again), especially those playing in the Contemporary World Cinema program.

So our first thought upon hearing that Last Cab to Darwin is receiving a release theatrically is “this film played at TIFF?”. Despite poring over the program book extensively, this film directed by Jeremy Sims, from a Reg Cribb play, slipped through the cracks. This is a shame, because despite the maudlin sounding title and description, the film is actually really profound.

Much of its profundity comes from the performance of Michael Caton as Rex McRae, who despite looking like an aged version of Crocodile Dundee, makes his character feel familiar and yet quite distant. This, the story of a cabdriver that has never left his hometown of Broken Hill in New South Wales, helps make the film feel authentic (it is loosely based on a true story) and yet very much removed from the stage.

This film is at its heart a road trip movie, so while McRae meets some interesting characters along the way, (and shockingly, features a less than interesting performance by Jacki Weaver), drives home a winning tale, as the terminal illness angle is mainly eschewed in order to focus on the human element, best expressed by McRae’s closeted relationship with an Aboriginal woman, Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf).

The film runs a tad overlong and perhaps may have done with some gentle refinement, but its mixture of rough and tender makes for a film that needn’t be overlooked.

[star v=35]