Archive for March 9th, 2009

One Week was kinda good.

Monday, March 9th, 2009

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Canadians of our generation will catch a few winks from Michael McGowan’s film about Pacey from Dawson’s Creek taking a motorcycle trip starting from Toronto and going West across Canada. Wait, that’s not a nice way to say it… What I meant is the appropriately Canadian Joshua Jackson stars in One Week as Benjamin Tyler, a young man diagnosed with terminal cancer, who wants to get the most out of the time he has left by taking an epic trip and “collecting moments.”

Cameos by local icons (i.e. Gord Downey and Emm Gryner), references to cafes on College Street and French Canadian folk songs, and all those highway-side “world’s largest” monuments to ordinary things makes you feel like you’re a part of a national inside joke. There are shout outs to Canadian-ness throughout this film. Despite it’s blatant commercial implications, we still laugh knowingly when the main character gets spiritual direction from a roll-up the rim cup from Tim Horton’s. It’s oftentimes corny and leans too heavily on slow melodic acoustic guitar and piano music from every single hip Canadian indie band you can think of to help carry the rhythm of the film. Yet this is one of the most enjoyable parts of watching. Even Josh’s performance was great!… though he outshone some of the other actors.

When Campbell Scott’s rich voiceover asks the audience questions like “What would you do it you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live?” I want to both probe deeper into my humanity and smirk self-conciously at the same time. The film tries to be whimsical and interesting in the same way Amelie does, but can’t quite pull it off. It’s got backstory with found footage and flash editing (including “whoosh” noises), some insights into the lives of minor characters and snapshots into the lead character’s imagination told visually, and some other “magic” filmic touches that seemed copied from other movies that are more mischevious and I thought didn’t really work in this context… I know it sounds like I’m tearing it apart, but I found the attempt quite charming. Instead of cringing at the contrivedness, I found myself mostly grinning and understanding the underlying ambition.

Despite the film’s derivativeness and tendency to lean on cliche, you tend to want to root for it because it is so earnest. The way One Week is not subtle at all is actually disarming. I get it! And I think Canada is amazing and beautiful too. Only we miss out on the East side… Maybe Sam (Liane Balaban), the girlfriend character, should take a soul-searching snowmobile ride to Newfoundland in One Week II.