“I’m a cab driver. I’m going to drive my cab till I can’t drive it no more.”
When mortality suddenly becomes a reality, a cab driver in the Australian Outback decides he wants to face death on his own terms. Rex Macrea (Michael Caton), a crusty loner in Broken Hill, New South Wales, learns he only has three months to live. When he learns that a Dr. Farmer (Jacki Weaver) in the Northern Territory wants to test a new euthanasia law, he starts off on a 1,900 mile journey, hoping to use her suicide machine to end his life. But is it that easy?
Rex has tried to live his life without attachments. He has his mates at the local pub, but he doesn’t figure they’ll miss him. He doesn’t want his indigenous neighbor (and lover) Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) to have to take care of him. So without telling anyone, he sets off on his trek across the continent. Along the way he manages to collect Tilly (Mark Coles Smith), a young indigenous footballer who has let fear stand in the way of a possible career, and Julie (Emma Hamilton), a nurse from London who is backpacking Australia. When he arrives in Darwin he discovers that there is more to dying than he had expected. He also, in making the journey, discovers that there is more to life than he ever realized.
It is easy to miss the joys of life when we are in the midst of the day to day. For Rex, who has lived his whole life in Broken Hill, it is a wonder to see the various landscapes of the Outback. He marvels at the beauty of sunsets. He meets new people. Finally, he comes to discover that those he has left behind are far more special than he knew.
The writer of Ecclesiastes sets his reflections within a framework of considering mortality. What do all our works, our strivings, our desires, our accomplishments really mean if we are all going to die anyway? What of the daily grind of life? Is it just one thing happening after another, or does it have rewards for us if we just recognize them?
It is just such questions that Rex faces on his trip to Darwin. He thinks he is going off to take control of his life by controlling his death. But in the end, he discovers that there is beauty and love in his life that he’s just not willing to let go of one second too soon.
Photos courtesy of First Run Films