A Canadian movie about a cross-country trip with a terminal diagnosis hanging over the hero's head? With respect, we liked Foreverland better when it was the much simpler, more self-assured One Week.
I'm not sure how a trip across Canada (One Week) can be more cinematically awe-inspiring and visually elegiac than one down the Pacific Coast Highway from Vancouver to Mexico (Foreverland). But all good intentions aside, that's the main difference between the two.
Like his protagonist Will (Max Theiriot), Foreverland director/co-writer Max McGuire has cystic fibrosis, and he has both the realities of the disease down pat and a mordant, sardonic sense that gets in the way of Foreverland's journey toward redemption.
As the movie opens, it seems like Foreverland might be just another darkly-comic portrait of a quirky, disaffected youth, an indie film trope. We meet Will in a funeral home, where a sympathetic mortician (Matt Frewer) allows him the liberty to lie in a casket, lid open and closed, "shopping" as it were.
The subtext reveals itself when Will is seen in a class, demonstrating to students the self-pummeling he must give his chest to keep his lungs clear. Will has a morbid acceptance of his condition that has paralyzed his future plans and sense of adventure. That is, until the death of his friend Bobby (Thomas Dekker), who leaves him a DVD will obliging Will to pour his ashes into a pool in a rural Mexican village, a site of purported healing powers.
Bobby's condition being unhealable by any sort of miracle, he clearly means this to be a redemptive quest for Will. Bobby's sister Hannah (Quebec actress Laurence Leboeuf) is there as a sidekick and enforcer of Bobby's wishes.
If the redemption is in the journey rather than the destination, Foreverland is a bit of a meandering ramble. As with One Week, there's a random collection of oddballs en route (Gary Farmer as a garage-mechanic/car-thief, Juliette Lewis as a caricature of a Bible-thumping lunatic), but really not much in the way of inspiring or even feel-good moments. The one heart-warming element is the twist ending, which can be seen all the way up the Baja Peninsula, and ultimately seems contrived.