With a few notable exceptions, our modern culture does a piss-poor job of confronting mortality. We’re bad at dealing with our own impending death, and we’re worse when the death of a loved one is looming. Medical advances mean we try to keep ourselves (and each other) alive as long as possible, even if it involves long stretches bedridden in hospitals with weird machines keeping the Grim Reaper at bay. Despite that, we can grasp the concept that letting a loved one die, or helping him, is OK—as long as that loved one is a dog or cat or horse.
According to Last Cab to Darwin, it’s not just America where we suck at this. People in Australia are also bad at dying. Rex (Michael Caton) knew all that when he realized he had stomach cancer. And when a surgery that leaves a foot-long scar across his belly doesn’t get it all, he’s not interested in the hospital. What does pique his interest is a doctor on the other side of the continent who’s trying to establish the country’s test case on euthanasia. That leaves much of Last Cab to pass by as a kind of morbid road-trip flick, with Rex picking up a random, handsome aboriginal companion named Tilli, then Tilli (Mark Coles Smith) picking up a random blonde barkeep from London, who happens to be a nurse on hiatus from her real job (Emma Hamilton) and can help Rex stay alive long enough to get permission to kill himself using a medical device rigged with morphine. While these are the kind of relationships that really only happen on TV, Rex has meanwhile left a real relationship in the dust. This plotline, greased by the charming rough edges on Ningali Lawford-Wolf as Polly, explores not only the deep racial divide between white Aussies and Australia’s Indigenous people, but also how abruptly abandoning those who really know and love you isn’t any better of a way to die than the aforementioned beeping hospital scenario. And you don’t have to drive across the bush to figure out how it ends.
Last Cab to Darwin