The Way

5 Nov

Title: The Way
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Emilio Estevez
Writer: Emilio Estevez
Starring: 
Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, some thematic elements, drug use and smoking
Runtime: 
121 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
83%

The Way is a deeply personal film for Emilio Estevez, the guy stars in it, directed it and wrote it, it also stars his dad and was inspired by his son. And it feels that way, because it’s a journey about family through and through, and look, even if this film offers nothing terribly exciting and may be a bit too long, and still pretty good and just totally uplifting and pretty damn neat homage to his family by Mr. Estevez that was pretty much missing only a cameo by his brother Charlie Sheen to be complete. It’s a road movie, one of those in which the characters embark on a physical journey, a travel through some kind of land that will become a metaphor for a much more complex journey within themselves. We’ve seen it before, so it’s not as though Mr. Estevez and his pops are breaking ground at all here, but there’s something in the way presents this tried-and-true method that makes it work.

The guy doing all the walking here is Tom, the doctor played by Mr. Sheen. Tom’s son has just died while trying to complete the Camino de Santiago, an 800km pilgrimage route in Spain that’s really well known around the world (in English that route is called The Way of St. James which is were the title comes from) that goes over the Spanish mountains all the way to the Catedral de Santiago. The son, Daniel, was a religious guy, a quality he didn’t share with his father, but as Tom goes all the way to Spain to identify the body and be around for the cremation he decides he too will walk the Way and scatter Daniel’s ashes along the trek. And you know what will happen, Tom will start reevaluating his life as he walks the Way, and we really will see him walk, this film is a road movie in the whole sense of word, we’ll be there for the ride pretty much every step of the way.

Mr. Estevez, as it’s fitting, will of course play Daniel, who will appear to Tom occasionally in some visions and his dad starts really thinking about the relationship they had. And it’s actually kind of neat and somewhat touching seeing all of this because Mr. Sheen and Mr. Estevez really do seem like that father-son combo that really loves each other and has tremendous respect for each others work, and that sense of loyalty and love really translates on screen in the greatest of ways. So we follow Tom, who is going on the Way using his dead son’s backpack and hiking gear, and we see him go through the transition of a rather quietly mourning father to a guy that’s thrown way out of his element as he encounters some other pilgrims walking the same walk he is for their own reasons. The funnest of these people we meet is Yoost, a Dutchman trying to lose weight on the Way but who fixates on food and who Tom tries to evade but always keeps turning up, undeterred with a life-loving philosophy. There’s also Sarah, a divorced woman from Canada who seems to be trying to find a happiness that apparently eluded her even in marriage, and we also have Jack, an Irish who I didn’t really love all that much here.

And look there are obvious things that happen in The Way, like you might imagine, it is after all in essence your pretty basic morality tale about going out of your comfort zone to seek new things that may better your life, and it has those little encounters with other pilgrims and a moment in which the ashes are nearly lost that would seem mandatory for this particular story, but there’s also something more to be found here as Tom walks the route trying to come to terms as to why his son embarked on that pilgrimage in the first place. And there’s something more here because it ends up being a quite charming little movie that shows the beautiful country it’s in, and as we get to know more about Tom and those pilgrims that he meets the film turns out to be a rather honest and good look at these people we meet and why they are the way they are and why they have set on this journey in the first place.

The thing is that, and this is why I didn’t really love and just liked the movie, that whatever effect the journey has had on these people after they ask these questions of themselves we can’t really see. I mean, it’s all about the journey, and not about the aftermath of it, which is good I guess, but it gets to a point in which it seems we’ve spent a good two hours watching not really much at all. So it’s a nice little film, a pretty uplifting one at parts, and it’s certainly really good to see how great a father-son connection exists between Mr. Estevez and Mr. Sheen, but I guess I just wanted more to chew on from this one.

Grade: B

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