Director: Emilio Estevez
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen
Duration: 128 min.
An American father travels to France to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the "El Camino de Santiago" an 800 km trek from France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The Way is a film written and directed by Emilio Estevez, inspired by a real pilgrimage on the same route made by his father Martin Sheen and his son Taylor Estevez a few years earlier. It premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.The story begins after Sheen's character Tom Avery receives a phone call informing him of the death of his son Daniel (played by director and real life son Emilio Estevez) while traveling on the pilgrimage El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James (an 800 km path starting from the town of St-Jean in France and ending at the believed burial place of Saint James, Santiago de Compostela in Spain), he flies to France to bring home the body. But shortly after arriving, Tom decides to complete the pilgrimage in honor of Daniel, carrying and scattering his ashes along the route.
What follows is a touching performance from Sheen, and a film that mostly avoids the over dramatic. Along the way Tom encounters a cast of quirky characters, each with their own personal reasons for making the pilgrimage. A boisterously friendly Dutchman hoping to lose a few pounds, a cranky Canadian divorcee trying to quit smoking, and an Irish scribe suffering from writers block. Almost like an RPG, one by one they join up with Tom and soon they are walking together like an adventuring party. Granted these are rather cliched characters, but a flaw that can be overlooked because of the honest and restrained way in which they are presented. There was also one stereotypical and questionable sequence involving a young gypsy thief, and although the chase scene was used effectively to showcase the streets and sights of Burgos, they could have chosen a better subplot to do it with.
Speaking of the sights, the cinematography throughout is striking, capturing the beauty and magnificence of all the incredible locations and architecture along the way. From the heights of the Pyrenees to the ancient cobblestone streets everything was filmed in an awe inspiring way that almost makes you want to take the trip for yourself.
Having not heard of this film before watching it, I was not sure what to expect but I found it to be an excellent film, well directed, with a moving story, an impressive performance from Sheen, and some very beautiful cinematography.