‘A Journey’ Review – A Beautiful Yet Tragic Tale Of Death, Life, And Love

By Lori Meek
Published: April 12, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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'A Journey' Review - A Beautiful Yet Tragic Tale Of Death, Life, And Love
A Journey | Image via Netflix
3.5

Summary

A bucket list movie that makes a poignant case for the ephemeral nature of human existence.

A Journey is a heartwrenching Filipino drama about a woman with cancer setting out to complete her bucket list together with her husband and childhood friend. It’s a beautiful and compelling piece of filmmaking about what truly matters. 

I must warn you though, this film will make you very sad. 

A Journey opens with cancer survivor Shane, her husband Bryan, and their best friend Kristoff, aka Tupe, celebrating her 39th birthday at a karaoke bar. Kristoff is a famous television actor and Bryan works as his manager while Shane runs a coffee shop. The three have been friends since childhood, while Bryan and Shane have been in love for just as long. 

Not long after her birthday, Shane notices some worrying symptoms and goes to her oncologist. The news is devastating, Shane’s cancer has returned. After having suffered through chemo once before, Shane doesn’t want treatment this time. Instead, she wants to spend whatever time she has left getting through her “magic list” with Bryan and Tupe’s help. The list includes some fun items like seeing penguins, going snorkeling, and recreating her first date with Bryan, but also emotionally heavy goals like reconnecting with her estranged father. 

'A Journey' Review - A Beautiful Yet Tragic Tale Of Death, Life, And Love

A Journey (via Netflix)

A Journey is a heartfelt drama exploring themes of love, friendship, and the things that matter when faced with mortality. It may start with a bad karaoke scene, but this isn’t a feel-good romance where everything is honky dory in the end. The film offers an honest (and depressing) exploration of the often tragic reality of the human condition.

A devastated Bryan seems to accept his wife’s decision and even quits his job to spend time with her. He does, however, have an ulterior motive as he’s hoping Shane will agree to start her cancer treatments once the magic list is complete. Wanting to help, Tupe organizes an all-expenses paid trip to Tasmania for the trio. Shane is apprehensive about allowing her friend to pay for such an expensive trip, but she eventually relents. 

'A Journey' Review - A Beautiful Yet Tragic Tale Of Death, Life, And Love

A Journey | Image via Netflix

As lighthearted as the trio tries to be during their trip, the finality of their actions is never far from our minds. One compelling scene is where Tupe and Bryan debate whether life is about the journey or the destination. For Tupe, it’s about the destination, but Bryan sees the journey as more important. Shane, however, is acutely aware of how important each moment is and wants to spend her time making the most of it. 

The premise of a cancer patient choosing to live to the fullest in their final months has been done before, most notably in the 2007 tearjerker The Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. However, a movie doesn’t need to have a never-before-seen synopsis to be good. And that’s precisely what A Journey is. It’s a touching story about three childhood friends finding meaning in their lives in the face of devastating adversity.


I also broke down A Journey’s ending if you wanted some emotional support after that crushing climax. You can also read more about Penguin, Tasmania, where the movie was filmed. And if you’re interested, here are 5 romantic Filipino movies like A Journey you should also check out.

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