Friday, June 28, 2013

Day One Hundred and Seventy-nine - One Week, "Part-Ode to Canada, Part-Inspirational Road Movie"

Before 50/50 threw up-and-comer Joseph Gordon-Levitt into the pains of spinal cancer, back in 2008 Joshua Jackson (Dawson's Creek, Fringe) had his own brush with the Big C... the metastatic, all-but-uncurable kind.

Playing Ben Tyler, a burnt out literature teacher in Toronto, Jackson's character confronts his mortality by not even trying... instead electing to buy a motorcycle on the spur of the moment and follow the sage advice from the side of a coffee cup to "Go West."

And "Go West" he does.

Leaving his fiance (Liane Balaban) angry and confused that he doesn't immediately go into treatment and his parents clueless, Ben starts a road trip that traverses the length of Canada, taking in the majesty and the kitsch tourist traps along the way.

While not quite "On the Road" and not quite "Stranger than Fiction," the film follows quite a few road trip movie tropes to their inevitable conclusions. Ben meets medicine men/women of varying modes and persuasions, from druggies to farmers to busker-mountain-women, and each one helps him on his quest for personal enlightenment and how to not be just a "patient."

I like Joshua Jackson here. He's got that quiet intensity that serves him well both in One Week and in Fringe (where I love him most). Sure, there isn't much to the film besides introspective moments and montages of Canadian scenery, but it's still a pretty darn good movie about finding one's self.

There are a few weak bits here and there... the endings for one. The film definitely suffers from the same malaise that the LotR trilogy did in that you think you're to a good spot to finish and there's a fade out, but instead of credits you get another scene... and another... and another, but it still manages to strive on.

I also wasn't a fan of the occasional stock footage that snuck in because they didn't have the budget to CGI-up some wildlife. The video quality shifts jarringly at those moments and it instantly pulled me out.

For the most part, though, I like the hell out of it... it just feels a bit too much like a love song to Canada. It's not quite the American chest-thumping you get in Über-patriotic military films on our side of the border, but you still feel the schmaltz when a German couple compliments Ben for living in the beautiful landscapes of Canada and he sardonically replies, "I know."

Still, worth the watch... I just don't know if I'll ever need to RE-watch it.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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