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One Week


An affecting, offbeat drama

Rod Lott March 29th, 2011

Not based on the Barenaked Ladies song, “One Week” begins with young Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson and his perpetual 5 o'clock shadow) being told he has stage IV cancer of the blood, liver and lymph nodes, and thus, little time left to live.

oneweek

"How many stages are there?" he asks, not quite comprehending the severity of the situation.

“Four,” replies the doc.

Ben’s first instinct is to cancel his upcoming wedding to Samantha (Liane Balaban of “Last Chance Harvey,” looking like a taller, thicker-browed Natalie Portman). His second, taking advice from a disposable coffee cup, is to ride across Canada on a secondhand Norton 850 Commando motorcycle. He meets some colorful characters along the way, but in a final-days drama like this — call it “Queasy Rider” — it’s more the personal journey that matters.

With Ben stopping at every oddball roadside attraction on his route, writer/director Michael McGowan’s film plays like an offbeat love letter to the beauty of the Great White North, a collection of moving postcards. Like that Great American Novel you wrote in college, pieces of it call too much attention to themselves, such as highway signs point to Hope or Runaway Lane, but other than that, “One Week” does a nice job of juggling gravitas and guffaws. Calming, comforting and omniscient narration from Campbell Scott, at times reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia,” helps achieve that delicate balance.

And then there’s Jackson. While doing a fine job fronting Fox’s “Fringe,” he gets a true opportunity to act here, and nails it. No wonder he won Canada’s equivalent of the Academy Award for his affecting work, proving he’s a long, long way from “Dawson’s Creek” — so far he’s, like, almost caught up with Michelle Williams. —Rod Lott


 
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