Published Mar 05, 2009One Week tells the story of Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson), a failed writer turned middle school English teacher who is sleepwalking through his life until he's diagnosed with terminal cancer. His first instinct is to buy a motorcycle and head west from Toronto to wherever the road takes him, much to the chagrin of his practical fiancée Samantha (Liane Balaban).
It's a very Canadian adventure, showcasing this country's beautiful landscape, stopping at every bizarre "World's Biggest" monument along the way. Like any good road trip, the soundtrack is amazing, filled with atmospheric indie rock provided by Stars, Great Lake Swimmers, Sunparlour Players and the like. The Canadian music scene is featured so prominently that the film has Joel Plaskett busking on the Toronto streets, while the travelling Ben smokes pot with Gord Downie and sings along with Emm Gryner to "Un Canadian Errant."
Joshua Jackson (best known as Pacey from Dawson's Creek) gets better and better in the lead role, growing into the character's transformation. And Liane Balaban (New Waterford Girl) is equally strong as the tightly wound Samantha, who is left behind to bear the strain of Ben's diagnosis and subsequent departure.
The script employs a third-person voiceover narration (by Campbell Scott) that is so well written it elevates the film by adding some perspective to a journey that could otherwise become self-indulgent. The narration is paired with some neat editing that cuts together flashes of photos and stock footage to show Ben's fleeting thoughts and memories.
The result is a whimsical and heartfelt meditation on mortality and relationships that doesn't cop out with easy solutions but still manages to find some hope to cling to. (Mongrel Media)