REVIEWS: Docs / Other films, Video — April 2, 2012 at 3:12 am

REVIEW: The Way (2010) + trailer

I’ve never really pictured Emilio Estevez as a director, but recently after writing about the “Sheen-Estevez family”, I’ve decided to give his film “The Way” a shot.

The story centers around an aged ophthalmologist Tom (Martin Sheen) who receives a note about his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) dying on his way while traveling the “El camino de Santiago”.

Filmed with a small crew of fifty people and a couple of cameras for filming. No trailers were used, and, as Estevez jokingly remarked, neither was a director’s chair.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James, are a collection of old pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe. They all have Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain as their destination. For more than 1000 years pilgrims have walked along the Camino de Santiago.

While in this case the father-son relationship was far from perfect, Tom goes to France, to collect his son’s remains, and after reading Daniel’s diary, decides to complete the “El camino de Santiago” journey (the pilgrimage) himself, to honor his son.

That’s pretty much all, as far as the story goes. For the next two hours, Martin Sheen (Tom) is going to experience the most strange and memorable journey of his life.

During his pilgrimage, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, each with their own issues and looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman named Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt), who is suffering from a bout of writer’s block.

Along the way, the group gets to know each other better, Tom nearly loses his son’s pack, but against all odds, he has to complete what he started.

I dare to say that not too many people in his age would be ready to embark on such trip, changing their plans overnight.

You don’t choose a life, dad. You live one. – Daniel (E. Estevez)

Since Tom has not completely gotten over his son’s death, we see Daniel’s spirit following his father along the whole pilgrimage.

As his “personal journey” continues, Tom places bits of his son’s ashes at various places on El Camino to signify that his son is making the journey with him, a gesture which later is understood and appreciated by his fellow pilgrims.

Though touching, this goes against Catholic teaching – cremation is allowed, but all of a person’s ashes are to be kept together, in one place. Scattering or dividing the ashes is officially prohibited.

Before watching the film I’ve read some articles about “The Way”, and it seemed to me, that this would a movie that you would either love or hate. Expressing my personal opinion, I would say that Estevez pleasantly surprised me as a director, as this film about pilgrimage really shows that Emilio has put his soul into production.

In an L.A. radio interview, Estevez revealed where from he got the inspiration for the film – the identical pilgrimage that his father Martin Sheen and his son Taylor Estevez made a few years before on the Camino de Santiego de Compostela in Spain.

Since that trip, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez spoke often of how they could make a film about the pilgrimage until an idea surfaced. By the way, this is the second time Estevez acts as a son of Martin Sheen in a movie.

When one takes the 500 mile Camino de Santiago, they carry a scalloped shell with them as an identity. Emilio Estevez was given such a shell by a man who made that journey six times. When he made the journey while filming the film, he kept the shell with him.

Martin Sheen initially suggested that a documentary be made to promote pilgrimage and honor the Camino. However, Emilio Estevez thought that an independent commercial vehicle would be a better way to go.

I am glad they decided to make a feature film, even if not for the commercial purposes, this type of documentary could have been boring. Instead, we get a quite touching, emotional drama about an interesting subject.

Acting is good all around, however what “The Way” mostly attracts you with is the scenery – it is absolutely beautiful. According to Estevez himself, the shooting took place on the actual trip roads of El Camino.

Summing it up, I would definitely recommend the film, which stands somewhere in between, being independent, and having good solid actors (Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, Tcheky Karyo) at the same time. Give it a look.




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One Comment

  1. The final result is a film in which you will actually care what happens to the people involved, something all to rare in most movies. I applaud this father and son work of inspiration.

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