Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Way (2010)

Written and directed by: Emilio Estevez
Starring: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Yorick Van Wageningen, Deborah Unger, James Nesbitt

The Way is a film about personal discovery. Very early in the film, Thomas Avery (Sheen), an upper-class ophthalmologist from California gets a call from French Authorities informing him that his free-wheeling son, Daniel (Estevez) was killed while walking along the Camino de Santiago.  In case you have never heard of the Camino de Santiago, it's an Ancient pilgrimage trail that runs from France through Spain to The Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela. It is believed that the remains of the Apostle St. James are buried at this site.  Tom travels to France to bring his deceased son home, and instead decides to take the pilgramage in honor of his son. Tom spreads his son's cremated remains along the way. While on his personal journey, Tom encounters three other travelers taking the same journey. There is Joost (Van Wageningen), a free-spirited Dutchman from Amsterdam, Sarah (Unger), a bitter chain-smoking Canadian, and Jack, a self-absorbed writer suffering from writer's block. By happenstance, the group travels together; each bringing their own dynamic to the story.

While the film has a mild religious undertone (Martin Sheen is a devout catholic by the way), it is not a religious film. The film is more of an inspirational story about personal discovery, no matter what one believes in spiritually. The on-location sets along the actual Camino de Santiago provide breath-taking scenery, and add to the authenticity of the film. The 80s lite-radio themed score can be a bit melodramatic, but it is easily overlooked. There are also a few scenes in the story that could have been more developed into the narrative. For instance, in one scene Tom loses his backpack in a river, but the scene just sort of dies out. However, the overall aspect of the film is still good in my opinion.  As Estevez approaches the mid-century point in his life, I believe he is finding his niche as a writer, producer and director. 

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