Monday, 24 August 2015

Last Cab To Darwin (2015) - Movie Review

I really wanted to like this film a lot more than I did. The cast list shows prime Aussie talent, like Michael Caton, David Field and Jacki Weaver. The cinematography is downright gorgeous with some equally beautiful and haunting scenes, like the 'Pussy Willow' that might be one of the more disturbing cinematic images of the year. The soundtrack, comprised of bare-bones acoustic guitars, gives a nice rural flavour to the overall film. And the first act involving said cab ride to Darwin has a lot going for it. The relationship between Caton’s Rex and Mark Coles Smith as Tilly is a bit rocky but makes for a great buddy dynamic and the two genuinely feel like people who could become friends in such a short amount of time.

The film also takes a scalpel to Australian culture in terms of its prejudices, raising some really good points about how we’re perfectly willing to accept tourists and treat them with due respect but how we aren’t doing the same for those who already live here. Yeah, this inevitably ties into Aboriginal communities in context to the rest of Australia, but it also ties into the main character’s plights as well: One group is unable to live a proper life, while another is unable to die a proper death.

Anyway, as good as all this sounds, it starts to go downhill once our mains actually make it to Darwin. Not only does the pace slow to a crawl, and Tilly’s role is drastically reduced in favour of bringing British nurse Julie (Emma Hamilton) into the forefront, but the script starts to seriously doubt itself in terms of its stance on euthanasia. Don’t get me wrong, a change in perspective makes sense given how Rex comes face-to-face with the final question of where he actually wants to die. However, that would only work if it was just Rex who went through this change; instead, the entire film, both its tone and its supporting cast, do the same and end up making the film feel extremely uneven. It doesn’t help that the film drops its commentary on societal prejudices, save for one admittedly well-done scene, in favour of delivering a rather basic medical drama.

This is half of a good movie and I sincerely wish that it was more than that.

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