I saw the Canadian film One Week a couple of months ago, and I thought I’d share a review that I wrote up after watching it:
No one can accuse this movie of hiding its Canadian roots. All of the maple leafs, “world’s largest” landmarks, and Tim Horton’s roll-up-the-rim coffee cups will look very, very familiar to anyone who’s ever set foot in our great nation. And while serving double duty as a Canadian travel brochure, One Week also manages to tell an emotional, captivating story.
The set-up is fairly simple. Joshua Jackson (of Dawson’s Creek “fame”) plays Ben, a suppressed English teacher who is told that he’s dying from cancer, and has only a 10% chance of survival. Before he becomes a “patient”, Ben is determined to have an adventure. He buys a second-hand motorcycle, heads west, and nearly gives his fiancé, Sam, an aneurysm in the process. Self-discovery, unexpectedly meaningful encounters, and beautiful landscapes ensue.
From the backdrop to the music to the cast, everything about One Week is incredibly Canadian. This is no Hollywood blockbuster. And in this case, that’s a really good thing. Example of Canadian-ness: Gord Downie has a small but vital role as one of the many fascinating people Ben meets on his journey (and he shows his acting chops, giving an unexpectedly touching performance). Even though I may be a little biased towards any movie that features Joel Plaskett as a busker, I thought One Week was an all-around good movie.
Some may cringe at the idea of narrative voice over and “dream sequences”, but I felt they worked nicely here towards the film’s off-beat appeal. These slightly screwy diversions didn’t always completely work, but many – including one featuring a postmodern victory dance – added a lot of personality to what could have been a generic story.
The cinematography is lovely, of course, and the scenery plays just as crucial of a part as anything else. Though not geographically practical, it would have been nice to see Ben explore the east coast. But the shots of Northern Ontario and the prairies were really breathtaking.
Jackson does a nice job, too. The film wouldn’t have worked without his total commitment to the role. There are not a lot of big, emotional scenes, despite Ben’s condition (which is a good thing – it makes for more impact when we do get to see the barriers come down), but Jackson portrays the introverted suffering of this young man well.
This is a movie with humour, truth, and real human drama. One Week feels authentically Canadian, and just plain authentic.