The Way, a film by Emilio Estevez, with Martin Sheen, James Nesbitt
23 April 2012
Still from The Way, directed by Emilio Estevez.
People have been walking the Camino de Santiago, or Camino, an 800 kilometre long track from the Pyrenees in France, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in the Spanish town Galicia, for over a thousand years. Many are Christian pilgrims on spiritual retreats, while others walk the scenic pathway purely for leisure.
American eye doctor Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) finds himself on the historic trail for other reasons however, in The Way (trailer), the latest feature of American filmmaker Emilio Estevez (The War at Home, Bobby). Estevez also plays Tom’s adult son, the free-spirited Daniel, who dies during a storm soon after embarking on the long trek.
Intent on walking the path alone in remembrance of Daniel, Tom isn’t exactly overjoyed to run into the same people repeatedly. They include Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), a Dutchman trying to lose weight, Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), a Canadian escaping from an abusive marriage, and Jack (James Nesbitt), a struggling Irish writer.
The four eventually end up walking as a group, and in their own ways are able to be of help to each other. Tom however remains the most aloof of the quartet, and the most prone to bad tempered outbursts, as he struggles to come to terms with his grief, while harbouring a lingering ambivalence towards his trekking companions.
On one hand The Way is a warming portrayal the ancient Camino, and the people who travel along it, and their quest for whatever it is that they are seeking. Many of the situations that Tom and his co-walkers find themselves in will doubtless be familiar to anyone who has spent time backpacking, regardless of where they’ve been.
Yet it’s as if the grimness of Tom’s trudge, and the varying despair of those accompanying him, wasn’t quite enough for the screenwriters, who seemed to decide the story was want of a little more tension. The solution however, mainly in the form of Tom’s frequent meltdowns, comes across as contrived, and at odds with the consoling calm of the Camino.
Originally posted Monday 23 April 2012.