Joshua Jackson is at home on the range in One Week.
ONE WEEK written and directed by Michael McGowan, with Joshua Jackson, Liane Balaban and Jane Spidell. A Mongrel Media release. 94 minutes. Opens Friday (March 6). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
Normally, I'd run the other way from anything with a premise like One Week's: elementary school teacher Ben (Joshua Jackson) finds out he has terminal cancer and decides to hit the road.
But in Michael McGowan's hands, it becomes a moving, quintessentially Canadian film that has big commercial potential.
You're probably saying, "A quintessentially Canadian film? Watch me run away from that."
But that'd be a mistake.
For one thing, it's beautiful. Ben travels by motorbike from T.O. all the way to the West Coast, stopping at the biggest everythings in Canada - the Sudbury nickel, the goose outside Wawa. You get the picture. And beyond the tourist haunts, the landscape always plays a major role.
Canadian rock stars show up in the most unlikely places as soulful characters lending Ben their offhand but totally helpful personal insights. Ben rolls up the rim to win. We get a short but terrific hit of hockey. And don't worry, though Ben's westward-bound, the East Coast gets its due in the form of two endearing Newfoundlanders cycling to the other side of the country on a bet.
Along his journey, Ben contemplates his relationship with his fiancée, Samantha (Liane Balaban), whom he's left behind, and the book he'll probably never write.
Here the film gets a little bit lazy. Though the premise promises some heavyweight philosophy, it never really materializes. One Week winds up being more a love letter to Canada than a treatise on death and dying. In fact, you could pull out the terminal cancer part entirely and this movie could work. But Jackson himself is so appealing that he makes One Week's clichéd terminal illness plot line ring true emotionally.
As a bonus, we get yet one more reason why screenwriters cannot pretend that there's no such thing as a hot woman over 40. Check out Jane Spidell as rancher Fran. She's real, wears the lines on her face with class and is totally delicious. 3