Rex is a loner, and when he's told he doesn't have long to live, he embarks on an epic drive through the Australian outback from Broken Hill to Darwin to die on his own terms; but his journey reveals to him that before you can end your life, you have to live it, and to live it, you've got to share it.
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Based on a stage play, which in turn was based on a true story, this movie tells the story of Rex (Michael Caton), a taxi driver who has never even left his home town of Broken Hill, NSW. Just as Rex learns his stomach cancer has spread and the doctors give him maximum three months to live, he hears the news that voluntary euthanasia has been legalised in the Nothern Territory. He instantly knows that that is what he wants – no hospitals, just end things on his own terms. Within a couple of days he is on his way in his cab to Darwin to find Dr. Farmer (Jacki Weaver), who is in the limelight for championing a new euthanasia programme.
The 3,000 kilometer road trip gives Rex the opportunity to reflect on his life, and his relationship with in particular his neighbour Polly (Ningali Lawford), helped along the way by a directionless drifter Tilly and an English backpacker-slash-nurse Julie.
The acting is generally very good. Caton and Lawford bring a great amount of expression to bear, both in big and in small measures, carrying the heart of the movie with ease. There are beautiful scenes of outback scenery, and the soundtrack throughout is an excellent fit. There are many scenes that show relationships between individuals, as well as between ‘whites and blacks’ in a wider sense that simply feel genuine without necessarily being major plot ploints, seeking to create melodrama, or pretending to be a serious indictment of Australian society. This is a movie to watch and enjoy for its atmosphere, and in that respect it delivers handsomely.
There are a few weaker points: the script isn’t actually all that great – the key events as well as introductions of the key characters are all just a bit too unnaturally convenient, but this is forgiveable – it doesn’t hurt the movie too much. The supposedly controversial topic and morality of euthanasia, despite being the entire purpose of the roadtrip, isn’t investigated in any depth at all, and Jacki Weaver’s Dr. Farmer is the only character in the movie that feels rather unnatural – both poorly scripted and acted.
Don’t let that deter you – watch this movie for Rex and Polly’s story, with credible acting of those two leads, supported by a great soundtrack and some beautiful scenery, and let it pull on your heartstrings. Then it is a more than decent movie.