One Week (2008 film)

One Week (2008 film)
One Week

Promotional film poster
Directed by Michael McGowan
Produced by Avi Federgreen
Richard Hanet
Joshua Jackson
Michael McGowan
Nick de Pencier
Jane Tattersall
Nadia Tavazzani
Written by Michael McGowan
Starring Joshua Jackson
Liane Balaban
Campbell Scott
Music by Andrew Lockington
Cinematography Arthur E. Cooper
Editing by Roderick Deogrades
Distributed by Mongrel Media (Canada)
Release date(s) September 8, 2008 (2008-09-08) (TIFF)
March 6, 2009 (2009-03-06)
Running time 94 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $2 million est
Box office $488,697[1]

One Week is a 2008 Canadian film directed by Michael McGowan and starring Joshua Jackson, Liane Balaban, and Campbell Scott. The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival on September 8, 2008 and was released theatrically on March 6, 2009.

Jackson plays Ben Tyler, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Requiring immediate treatment, he instead decides to take a motorcycle trip from Toronto through the Canadian prairies to Vancouver Island. Along the way, he meets several people that help him reevaluate his relationship with his fiancée Samantha (played by Balaban), his job and his dream of becoming a writer.

The scenic backdrop of the Canadian landscape as well as an all-Canadian soundtrack serve as prevalent influences in the film.

Joshua Jackson won Best Actor at the 2010 Genie Awards for his portrayal of Ben Tyler. Liane Balaban was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.



Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson) is an elementary school English teacher living in Toronto, Ontario. Sitting across from his doctor, Ben is told that he has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in its fourth and final stage. With a ten percent chance of survival and likely two years to live, the doctor recommends that he go into treatment immediately to give himself the best odds.

Soon after leaving his doctor's office, he encounters an elderly man selling his 1973 Norton Commando motorcycle from out of his garage in a back alleyway. Ben is offered a test drive, but explains that he is not in the market for a motorcycle. The narrator notes that his fiancée, Samantha Pierce (Liane Balaban), despises motorcycles. Nevertheless, he inevitably takes up the offer and upon returning from his test drive, buys the motorcycle. Finishing a Tim Hortons coffee, he rolls up the cup's rim, as part of the fast-food chain's popular yearly promotional contest, to a message that reads "Go west young man."

After celebrating his father's 60th birthday with his family, he breaks the news of his cancer to Samantha, as well as his desire to take a two-day vacation riding his newly-purchased motorcycle. She implores Ben to reconsider a vacation, reasoning that the longer he waits to go into treatment, the worse his chances for survival are. Unwilling to "become a patient", possibly for the remainder of his expectedly short lifetime, he asks Samantha to come with him.

Ben ultimately sets out from Toronto by himself. Reviewing the contents of his packed motorcycle, he takes out of a folder a children's book he had written about a mythical creature his father had told him stories of as a child called Grumps. His father had explained that children who manage to find the elusive Grumps are granted enormous capacities, which Ben later interprets as he grows up as meaning and purpose. Beginning his road trip, he does not, however, make it far before beginning to question the trip's worth in comparison to the potential value of immediately receiving treatment. He begins to make his way back to Toronto when he is encountered by two young men asking him for the closest Canadian Tire. The two friends explain to Ben that they are in the midst of a bet in which someone has challenged them to bicycle across Canada to Vancouver with no more than four hundred dollars for a case of beer. Inspired once more by a sense of adventure, Ben reconsiders his return home and again sets off westward.

Early on in his road trip, Ben has a conversation with a man (Gord Downie) staying in the same hotel who was also diagnosed with cancer earlier in his lifetime and overcame it. They begin talking about the man's wife and family when Ben asks how he knows he supposes one knows they are in love, alluding to his fiancée, to which the man replies that if one has to ask, they're not. Continuing on the road and without an itinerary, Ben makes stops at various landmarks, including giant novelty lawn chairs, paperclips and tee-pees, taking pictures along the way.

Passing through Arborg, Manitoba, while stopped at an ice rink, Ben is caught off guard by the Stanley Cup sitting on a pedestal at centre ice with nobody around. Ben walks onto the rink and begins reading the inscriptions on the historic ice hockey trophy, when an Anaheim Ducks hockey player (a fictional player portrayed by Gabriel Hogan) skates onto the ice. (The Ducks player serves as an allusion to Jackson's early roles in The Mighty Ducks film series.) Having won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks the previous year, he is entitled to a day with the trophy. After being allowed to kiss the Stanley Cup, Ben watches as the Ducks player skates around with the trophy alone on the ice.

Still in the Canadian Prairies, Ben's motorcycle breaks down on a road driving through Saskatchewan and, abandoning it, starts down the highway on foot. He cannot help but think that this would not have happened had he not visited the worlds largest prairie camel in Glenboro, Manitoba. He encounters a dead dog and, by way of the collar tag, contacts the unknowing owner, who picks Ben up, along with his motorcycle and the dog. The middle-aged, female owner takes him back to her ranch, where she inspects the motorcycle, revealing only minor problems. The two begin talking and she divulges to Ben that she is unmarried with a son who she rarely sees because he is working in Fort McMurray, AB and a four-year-old grand-daughter she has only seen once. After she takes Ben on a horseback ride to a beautiful panoramic view, she repairs his motorcycle and Ben continues on his way. The narrator reveals that after meeting Ben, inspired by their conversation, the lady travels to visit her son to Fort McMurray and despite missing him, she coincidentally meets the "love of her life" who asks her "can you tell me where Dawson Street is?"

As his road trip extends well past his initially-planned two-day vacation, Ben makes it to scenic Banff National Park in Alberta. Staying in the presidential suite of a local hotel, he goes through numerous voice messages on his cell phone from his fiancée and parents, begging him to come home. Ben calls Samantha who tells him that she will come to see him and will book a plane for the next morning. Later that day, Ben encounters a backpacker (Emm Gryner) exploring the backcountry with her dog and spends the night at her campsite. Conversing around a campfire, Ben reflects on his aspirations to be a writer and his failing to publish his first novel. They make love in her tent and Ben blissfully wakes up the next morning.

Unbeknownst to Ben, Samantha had managed to catch a flight immediately and spent the night waiting in the hotel lobby. When Ben finally returns to the hotel, he tells her about the previous night. As the two begin walking away from the hotel, Samantha tells Ben that although she is upset and hurt, she would rather focus on the matter of Ben's cancer. She continues to question Ben's motives for leaving and, in the midst of the arguing, Ben reveals that he has not loved Samantha completely. Forbidding Ben to follow her, she takes off.

Left behind in Banff, Ben pushes into British Columbia. Unable to sleep in his motel, he finds a pub. After some time, he stumbles out onto the street, vomiting. Regaining his composure, he is met by a panorama of the northern lights across the horizon and proceeds to call his mother.

Ben makes his way down to Vancouver and takes a ferry to Vancouver Island where he drives to Tofino on the west coast of the island. Sitting in a diner, he struggles to find the appetite to eat his meal. In the meantime, a truck backs into Ben's motorcycle outside the diner, rendering it undriveable. From there, he heads for a beach frequented by surfers with his own rented surfboard and wetsuit. Looking out towards the Pacific Ocean, a couple approaches Ben and asks him to take their photo. They tell him that he lives in "one of the most beautiful countries in the world." Setting out on his surfboard, Ben does not, however, get up to ride a wave, but rather continues swimming further west, aimlessly. Finally, he stops and, sitting upright on his surfboard, witnesses a humpback whale breaking out of the water. Awe-struck, Ben remembers that his father would tell him as a child that it was not known what Grumps actually looked like, but that those who searched for Grumps knew who it was him when he was found. Concluding that he had, in fact, found Grumps, Ben returns home.

Lying in bed with Samantha, they talk about his chances of overcoming his cancer and their inevitable breakup. He takes a cab to his parents' home. Exiting the taxi, he is met by his mother, father and sister waiting for him on the front steps, anticipating his return.

The final scene reveals the movie's narrator (Campbell Scott) who is recording the final chapter for an audio book. The camera pans to the title of the book as "One Week" by Ben Tyler. The same book appears as a bestseller in a bookshop window, a silhouette of Ben and his motorcycle on its cover.


"A very music-heavy film," as described by director Michael McGowan,[2] the soundtrack and score provides an integral role in One Week. Making a concerted effort to have the soundtrack reflect the Canadian-heavy theme of the film, McGowan assembled an all-Canadian ensemble of artists, notably Sam Roberts, the Great Lake Swimmers, Wintersleep, Patrick Watson, Stars, Luke Doucet, the Sunparlour Players and Lights.[3] Joel Plaskett, Gordon Downie, and Emm Gryner also appear in the movie as actors.


Cameo appearances are made by Gordon Downie and Joel Plaskett, of Canadian rock bands The Tragically Hip and The Joel Plaskett Emergency. Also Emm Gryner plays a hiker that meets Ben out in Banff.

Release dates

One Week screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2008 and in October at the Edmonton International Film Festival. It is the opening night film for the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Its Canadian theatrical release was on March 6, 2009.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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