Jun 082015

Last Cab_Day 15_Lake Eyre etc_2014

Day four has come and gone, with two films for subscribers’ viewing pleasure. As a big fan of THE CASTLE, I was a little disappointed to see that Michael Caton didn’t make an appearance for the second screening of LAST CAB TO DARWIN. In fact, while we’ve had a few guests pop in to introduce films, I still haven’t been to a single post-screening Q+A session, during either my daytime sessions or the extra films I’ve been sneaking in on the side. It’s my first year using a daytime pass, so I’m not sure if that’s the norm or if this year has just been a little quiet on the Q+A front. On to the films.

Subscribers dove straight back into the official competition today, with a screening of the short French superhero movie VINCENT. Perhaps ‘superhero movie’ is a bit of a misnomer, though, since much of the film takes the form of a sweet romance. The title character spends most of his time swimming in a secluded lake. When Vincent comes into contact with water he becomes much stronger, swimming as fast as a speedboat and gliding and diving like a dolphin. The film avoids using CGI to show these feats, instead filming them live with hidden platforms and harnesses. It’s an interesting look, which further differentiates the film from your typical Marvel fare.

Early on we see a few charming scenes in which Vincent reveals his powers to his new girlfriend, who is more intrigued than frightened. The back half of the film, however, is dedicated to a lengthy chase scene. This extended action sequence is less interesting than what came before, as the film starts veering closer and closer to the American films it’s trying to avoid aping. It’s over before we get sick of it, at a brisk running time of just 75 minutes. It’s a good film, but not a great one. I don’t think this is a serious contender for the main prize at the festival, but I’ve been wrong about these things before.

I had a better time with Jeremy Sims’ Australian road-trip drama LAST CAB TO DARWIN, which is loosely based on a true story. Michael Caton stars as Broken Hill taxi driver Rex, who is dying of stomach cancer. He reads in the paper that euthanasia has been made legal in Darwin, and sets off on a 3000-kilometre drive across the outback to end his life. The film doesn’t seem particularly interested in taking a side on the euthanasia debate. It’s more interesting in looking at its characters and their hopes and motivations. It’s a fine line for a film to walk, avoiding commentary on one of its major themes, but I found it to be well-handled.

Caton is best known for his comedies, and there are plenty of laughs to be had in this film, but this is also a particularly fine dramatic performance from him. The supporting cast is impressive as well. Mark Coles Smith is a real highlight as Tilly, a young and outgoing Aboriginal man who shares most of Rex’s trip. There’s an exploration of ongoing racism here, as we see Tilly refused service in several establishments. It’s shocking to see it in a modern-day context, serving as a reminder that we’re not as far past this as we would like to think we are. It’s a film with a broad appeal, and one I think will do well upon release. As the credits rolled and the crowd applauded, I whispered two words into the ear of the friend beside me: “Audience Award.”

I’ll be back tomorrow with another round-up after seeing SONG OF THE SEA and MR. HOLMES.

By Shaun Heenan