IT'S frankly off-putting when, two minutes into a movie, we get a gratuitous Winnipeg put-down.
Apparently, according to screenwriter Jessie Gabe, our city is not "picturesque." (Gabe actually appears in this movie as a snooty receptionist. Dare we suggest typecasting?)
That's all the more irksome because Winnipeg is the home of the two main characters, but director Jason Priestley didn't bother to either film here or even find viable exterior visual matches for ugly Winnipeg locations. That's just lazy.
Dr. Cas Pepper (Richard Dreyfuss) is a doctor disinclined to heal himself when he learns he has a brain tumour with a terminal prognosis. When this medical loner's dog dies, Cas is free to drive to the West Coast to end his life on his own terms.
His plans go awry when he encounters Dylan Morgan (Tatiana Maslany), a would-be novelist suddenly eager to leave town (and an abusive, shotgun-toting boyfriend).
This protracted meet-cute avoids a romantic entanglement and we are thankful. (The movie seems to have been somewhat inspired by the '60s cult movie Harold & Maude, but doesn't go all the way, as it were.) Instead, we get some predictable odd-couple bickering conducted on highways throughout Western Canada.
Cas struggles with writing a fitting suicide note. Dylan offers to help. Along the way, they come to an understanding, with Dylan learning to respect Cas's stubbornly held death wish and Cas learning to appreciate Dylan's penchant for petty larceny, her ambition and her outrageous behaviour.
Despite the cliché of it all, Dreyfuss and Maslany damn near sell this movie. Maslany, from the TV series Orphan Black, is powerfully charismatic and committed. And Dreyfuss, whose career has taken a shmaltzy turn since his Jaws/Close Encounters days, elevates the material with a still-sharp, sardonic attitude.
The dynamic between the two actors should make for some crowd-pleasing cheer for audiences across Canada.