Tom (Martin Sheen) is a successful doctor who travels to France after hearing that his estranged son (Emilio Estevez) has died in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago. After flying to France and identifying the body of his son, Tom decides to cremate his son and finish walking the Camino de Santiago together. Along the way, he meets people from across the globe and befriends three of them, in particular. The Way is very much a film about discovery in all forms, learning about yourself and what you truly want, learning about the people you hold dear and learning about the cultures and people of the world.
The Way was different from most of the movies I’ve seen, since you can feel how personal and special this is to Estevez. With nearly every aspect of the film coming directly from Estevez, it almost feels like you’re peeking into his own life. The Way is a simple movie, relying on characters and emotion to create a connection with the audience, instead of flashy CGI or overdone genres. It is closer to watching a documentary, than a movie. The cinematography lends to that feeling of reality, allowing the audience to walk beside the characters and experience the film first hand.
There are many characters that come and go along the walk, but Tom has three companions that are frequently with him. The first is Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), a very friendly man from Amsterdam. Naturally, Joost is never without some sort of drug. The second is Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), the apparently cold and intelligent Canadian. The final person to join their walk is Jack (James Nesbitt), the Irish writer. Throughout the movie, you learn about why each person is walking the Camino. Some walk it to lose weight or quit smoking, others walk it to free their minds or find themselves. The lead actors and actresses all give powerful performances, using their on-screen chemistry to let the dialogue flow naturally. You begin to feel like a part of their group, wanting to know more about them and each character has their own story to tell. The slow pace of the film plays to its advantage, giving time to flush out the emotion in the story and the depth to the characters.
While The Way is a story about a father and a son, I would be lying if I didn’t say that it is also a sight-seeing trip. Each scene in The Way is set in a gorgeous part of the world, allowing the viewer to experience the sights of the Camino. Any parts of this film where the characters are walking is an opportunity to take in the amazing scenery. So, if you have any desire to see some landscapes across Europe, this movie is perfect for you.
The Way is, without a doubt, a feel good movie. Usually, those don’t appeal to me, but The Way doesn’t beat you over the head with rainbows and puppies like a lot of other films do. The good mood you’ll have after seeing this will be something that comes naturally from the heartfelt sincerity in The Way. Estevez doesn’t use any cheap tricks or tear-jerking plot twists, but simply presents his story as it is. So, if you can’t sit through a movie unless it has three explosions a minute and Megan Fox, The Way might not be your cup of tea.
The Way won’t rock box offices or make billions of dollars, but I don’t think that money is what matters to the people behind it. It’s rare to come across a movie that feels as personal as The Way does. Needless to say, Estevez has shown that he is a talented screenwriter and has an ability to capture emotion on film. So, if you’re able to see The Way, I’d recommend to take the opportunity. If you can sit back and enjoy the journey that the film takes you on, you’ll see how much it really has to offer.
I give The Way 4 “Worn Out Shoes” out of 5