One Week

I first heard about this movie when I watched an interview of Joshua Jackson on George Stroumboulopoulos CBC talk show The Hour. Then last year this movie was given a good push on Twitter and my interest was peaked.

One Week is a Canadian road movie directed by Michael McGowan and starring Jackson, up & coming Liane Balaban and narrated by Campbell Scott (who appears as, what seems, to be an older version of the Jackson’s character).

The movie starts off with Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson), a Toronto elementary school teacher, finding out that he has stage 4 cancer from his doctor. With a ten percent chance of survival and most likely two years to live, the doctor recommends that he go into treatment immediately to give himself the best odds. Leaving the doctor’s office, he meets an elderly man (Marc Strange) selling his bike as his eye sight has become bad. Knowing well that his fiance Samantha (Liane Balaban) detests motorbikes, Ben takes it for a spin and then buys the bike.

After drinking a Tim Horton’s coffee, he rolls up the rim to see if he has won a price – instead he sees the words ‘Go West, Young Man’. At his father’s 60th birthday party, Ben informs Samantha about his condition. He then states that he wants to take a 2 day ride on his bike and have an adventure before he goes in for treatment. He sets off from Toronto but quite soon questions the wisdom of not going in for treatment immediately. However his faith in his trip is soon renewed when he meets two guys from Newfoundland, who are trekking cross Canada on just $400 for a case of beer.

He meets a fellow biker (played by the Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie) who also overcame cancer. They have a conversation about how he overcame it and about life & love. Continuing on the road out west, he stops to take photos next to various landmarks. In Manitoba, he see the Stanley Cup, placed on a table on center in an empty rink. It seems that Derek Vincent (Gabriel Hogan) of the Anaheim Ducks has brought it there, entitled to a day with the trophy. After being allowed to kiss the Stanley Cup, Ben watches as the Ducks player skates around with the trophy alone on the ice.

When his bike breaks down, he meets a middle-aged female farmer who fixes his bike and then takes him on horse back to see a beautiful panoramic view of the Saskatchewan prairies. There’s a good cameo by Joel Plaskett as a busking singer/guitarist, who Samantha listens to. In Banff national park Ben meets a backpacker (singer Emm Gryner) who makes him sing along to a French song at a campfire and they make love at night. He wakes up blissfully but that is short lived as Samantha has come to meet him at his hotel and he tells her about his unfaithfulness. She takes off after he admits that he has not loved her completely.

Ben makes his way to Tofino (on Vancouver Island and about as West as he can go). While he is in a restaurant, his bike is damaged by a truck. He rents a surfboard & wet suit and swims far out into the ocean and then is elated to see a humpback whale breaking out of the water. Concluding that he had found ‘Grumps’ a childhood imaginary creature his father had told him about, he heads back home, meets up with Samantha and then goes to his awaiting parents & sisters to begin his treatment.

This music heavy movie ends as the narrator (Campbell Scott) is shown concluding the story and focuses on a book by Ben Tyler called ‘One Week’. It is implied that the narrator is an older Ben, seemingly free of his cancer. I found this movie appealing and funny in places, shadowed however by the probability of death. It’s a good movie to watch on an afternoon, lounging on your sofa.

8 outta 10!

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