Chronicles the motorcycle trip of Ben Tyler as he rides from Toronto to Tofino, British Columbia. Ben stops at landmarks that are both iconic and idiosyncratic on his quest to find meaning in his life.
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Out of the blue, Ben learns he has stage IV cancer; survival, with treatment, is 10 percent. So this risk-averse, slow-to-act, quiet man buys a used motorcycle, says goodbye to Samantha, his baffled fiancée, and heads west from Toronto. He imagines it's a quest for Grumps, a mythical figure from his childhood; he takes digital photos of various "world's largest" roadside attractions; he chats with strangers, including two women; his bike slips on a dead skunk on the highway. Calls to Samantha meet with pleading that he return for treatment and anger that he won't. He doesn't want to be a patient yet. But, will he make discoveries, and what about Grumps? What's important? Written by
The motorcycle Ben travels with is a 1973 Norton 850 Commando. See more »
As Ben travels across Northern Ontario, he stops in Kenora, Ontario for a pose with Husky the Musky. He is next seen posing alongside the World's Largest Smoking Pipe - in St. Claude Manitoba and then we see him passing the "Welcome to Manitoba" sign which he would have passed 250km before the smoking pipe and 50km past Kenora. See more »
What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live?
I'm afraid it's not great news. We've picked up cancerous cells in your blood, your liver, and your lymph nodes. We need to get you into treatment right away.
How bad is it?
It's stage four.
How many stages are there?
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I think that director Michael McGowan really loves his main character, Ben. Ben is beautifully played by Joshua Jackson, a part which requires him to react to a lot of things. Ben seems quiet about most things, but not necessarily content. When told that he has cancer and only a short time to live, he's suddenly a man on the cusp of something. It takes only a silly message under the rim of a Tim Horton's coffee cup - "Go west" - to set him in motion. For the first time in his life, he doesn't just fall back into something familiar and comfortable - he takes action. He rejects, at least for the time being, the virtual death of invasive cancer treatment, and goes on a quest for the life he's never really experienced. And when he runs out of "west", as he's afraid he'll do, he goes even further. The road trip in this movie is the road trip, ever further west, to a destination of the spirit. To others, it seems as if he's running away. But he's not. He's running toward something. When his girlfriend and family try to reel him in to safety, to "us", he resists. In a moment I silently cheered he cries out, in frustration, to his girlfriend: "It's not about us! It's about ME!" That may sound selfish, but it's not. It simply means that there are places where other people cannot go. One thing I liked about this film is its adult take on its subject matter. Although frequently funny, it is also contemplative and suggests that, without being ostentatiously heroic, our actions can inspire others. While I was watching the film I was thinking that if it was about only this and nothing else I would have been satisfied. But a film about a man who doesn't stop while it's still safe - but who goes all the way. That appeals to me on a personal level.
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