It’s 2:00 pm
When I was out on my last media hunting trip to my local Family Video,I was really happy to see that the newer title shelf was pretty a zilch in terms of new titles to buy,the main floor at both of my stores I shop at had been packed with several new films priced at 1.50 apiece. When I say “new” it doesn’t mean brand new,only older stock that have been tagged to move. Needless to say I get pretty happy when this happen,while there is a lot of grade Z level movies,there are hidden gems like “One Week” to be found as well.
As I stated before and will again,I love IFC Films,they put out some of the very best movies and quite honestly,I find myself looking for those first when I hit the Family Video or the library. These two places cater more to true film buffs then box stores like Best Buy or Walmart. I have yet to find a single IFC title at a Goodwill,Salvation Army or a yard sale. Sort of speaks for itself on what kind of crap Hollywood puts out versus the rest of the world.
Like our last IFC Film,we reviewed, “October Gale”, this movie is also set in Canada.
Written and directed by Michael McGowan, “One Week” is a moving,touching and insightful.
Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson) is young school teacher who is engaged to Samantha (Liane Balaban). Life seems perfect until during a check-up when Ben is told he has an extremely aggressive advanced cancer and he needs to start chemotherapy right away.
When Ben asks how long he has,the doctor says he doesn’t really know but wants him to check into treatment right away at a local Toronto hospital.
As Ben slowly walks outside and starts to head home,he sees a elderly man who is selling his Norton motorcycle. Samantha has never liked motorcycles but Ben does and on a sudden impulse,he buys the Norton.
Ben rides and gets a coffee from Tim Hortons. It happens to be during the famous “roll up the rim” promotion and Ben rolls up his coffee cup,it says “Go West Young Man”.
Ben then goes home and tells her the news,his tone is light hearted as he is sort of happy to not have continue in a job he is burned out of and not having to marry Samantha,a woman with whom he has known is not the right one for him.
Ben has been beaten up creatively early in life being told he can’t sing,isn’t a dynamic writer and daydreams too much. He basically has been living for others.
But with this advanced cancer,Ben suddenly realizes by buying the motorcycle,he has a second chance to live as he has always wanted,even for such a short time.
Ben decides to ride from Toronto to the Pacific Ocean,Samantha begs to stay home and start chemo. Ben asks Samantha to come with him but she says “No” and he heads off west.
The Canadian locations are a beautiful co-star in this film as Ben drives the back roads towards British Columbia and the Pacific Ocean. He starts having a little self doubt about his journey and even turns back….but when he runs across two bicyclists who traveling from Newfoundland to Vancouver on a wager for a case of beer,Ben knows he was right all along and resumes his journey westward.
During the way,a terrific musical score runs through this movie,it is one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard to be honest and it really fits perfectly with who Ben is and trying to find out where he is going.
Samantha,who helped Ben pack his bags,has included a children’s book Ben had wrote about the Grumps,a made up creature that Ben’s dad had told him as a boy. The Grumps was supposed to bring good fortune to any child for could find him…Samantha wants Ben to read the book to their children she hopes they’ll have one day. Samantha has no idea that with mile traveled,Ben is falling out of love with her more and more.
Ben meets many different cool people along his journey,a older man (Gord Downie) who also had cancer but beat it,shares a joint and wisdom of love with Ben.
His Norton breaks down in the middle of nowhere and after getting a “no service” tone on his phone,he tosses it anger. As he ponders what to do,his phone starts ringing,the no service area was very small…Ben begins walking. He sees a dead dog with a collar and calls the owner,a very attractive middle aged rancher named Fran (Jane Spidell) who returns Ben’s kindness by fixing his bike and taking him for a horse ride.
As Ben begins the last part of his journey,he’ll have a few more crossroads to face before his journey ends. Will he reconnect with Samantha? Will he seek treatment? Or will he seek a new and different road to travel altogether? It’s a hell of a lot of life to fit into week.
Did we like “One Week”? Let’s put this way,the cheetah’s fur was pretty soaking wet after we watched this. We thought “One Week” was a beautiful,beautiful film and there isn’t a false moment in it.
We loved the fact it has a lovely narrative throughout the film that read by Campbell Scott. It add a real sense depth and emotion plus a real quirky and wry sense of humor to film. I have mentioned the soundtrack and Canada’s open land as co-stars but I have to add the stops that Ben made to the “largest statue of…..” was a nice idea and one couldn’t help but laugh as Ben finds every one on his journey.
Joshua Jackson is a revelation in this movie,he is a LONG way from “Dawson’s Creek” as Ben Tyler. His Ben is so happy to have a second chance to live HIS life as he wants..and a scene where he realizes that it’s not going to last long enough is heartbreaking to see.
As I write this review,Gord Downie the lead singer of The Tragically Hip,who played the cancer survivor Ben meets,died this week from brain cancer that was discovered in May of this year. He was only 53,the same age that my wife was when she died from her uterine cancer.
I saw a of lot Lori in the character of Ben Tyler in the fact that she wanted to live her life on her terms. Unlike Ben and Samantha and far too many people with cancer,it only our love stronger and deeper. But the initial shock and despair was captured by Jackson perfectly. Note that Samantha was a good person and Balaban plays her with compassion,fire and a single purpose. It’s a tough role to play but she really hits on the button.
Credit has to given Michael McGowan,whose earlier film,Saint Ralph,was raked over the coals for being “a sweet but sappy cliche”. I have a feeling that there is a personal story in McGowan that led him to do this movie,because it shows on the screen. There is nothing sweet or sappy here,maybe a whisper of fantasy but for the most part,pretty much life as one man lives it.
“One Week” is unrated but should be considered PG-13 and has a run time of 94 minutes.
The only special feature is the trailer and you can buy this film at IFC’s website
We give “One Week” two thumbs/4 paws and a tail straight up.
.“To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”
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