You have never seen the amazing beauty of the western part of Canada like you will while watching this film. Filled with all sorts of Canadiana like the Giant Nickel, the Stanley Cup and the Terry Fox statue outside Thunder Bay you might think that it is not very Canadian to toot our own horn, but that is not what this film is about.
In essence it is a road film about a man who finds he has terminal cancer but is not ready to undergo the treatment for it. Instead he buys a vintage Norton motocycle and decides to head west from his native Toronto. Though his decision frightens his parents and sister and angers his fiancée, Samantha (Liane Balaban), Ben (Joshua Jackson) takes off with no concrete plans of where he is going other than west. No matter what the costs or risks are to his health. He is going on a trip to find himself and live what is left of his life the way he wants to.
Like Ben the film is alive while it is on the road and dies a painful death while at home in Toronto. Both are stunted in the city. On the road everyone, including the viewer, is more alive.
One Week creeps along at a leisurely pace accentuating the fact that Ben does not have any definite plans about where he is going. The pacing is key. It lets you feel like things are happening right in front of your eyes. You find yourself immersed in what is going on whether you agree with his decision or not. That is part of the problem with the film – Ben's decision. Is it selfish and narcissitic? Or should we always do, when faced with our own mortality, what is in our hearts? We feel torn. Either repulsed or inspired by what Ben decides to do. It is always on our minds and clouds what we think of the film. There are, however, more reasons to like the film than not to.
First is the understated performance of lead Joshua Jackson. He is believable and not overly dramatic when he easily could have fallen into that trap. You can see the changes Ben is going through just through his body language and facial expressions. By the end of the film you know without him vocalizing it that he has accepted what is happening to him.
Another standout feature of the film is the scenery. Of course Banff and the Rockies are beautiful, but it is the rest of the West that is shown in all its glory. Huge wheat fields, views of a vistas and the largesse of the Prairies are all stunningly depicted by director Michael McGowan (Saint Ralph).
The lilting narration (by Campbell Scott) allows you insight to what Ben is going through and what is going on in his mind. Scott's voice is soft and makes you feel like you are having a conversation. Everything is very laid back in this film. Wisdom and serenity is what the narration offers us. We get to observe life's mysteries along with him.
The film is a pleasant watch, if at times it feels as if Ben's illness is nothing but a gimmick to keep the plot moving, that will make you want to go on a road trip across Canada.