February 28, 2012
Review - " The Way " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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We see the noisy sleeping dorms of the albergue guesthouses along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Joost is
eager to sample the local culinary delights of cheese, wine and leg of lamb. They pick up another traveling companion, an
embittered Canadian divorcee, and then an overly-emotive Irish writer trying to overcome his writer's block. These
characters are well-acted and don't devolve into caricatures. While there is comedy, thankfully you can't say, "four people
hike the Camino and hilarity ensues."
All of these trekking companions smoke, which is realistic for Europeans, and weed is as popular with them as tobacco.
Tom keeps up a determined pace, he is on his own mission.
As the writer character describes, people walk the Camino for various reasons. Physical challenge, cultural immersion,
spiritual exploration or journey to repentance, all have been reasons for people to walk the Camino for over 1000 years.
There are many moments when Tom sees Daniel and only the hardest heart isn't moved. But it never feels like
In the past, people walked the Camino to earn repentance for their sins. Our traveling companions all find some of what
they may have been seeking. There are no dramatic revelations and transformations. But the long walk gives you a
chance to come to grips with past choices, traumas and regrets.
It's a lovely movie that combines sorrow, comedy, road trip and travelogue. The script and acting are subtle and gentle,
letting the power of the journey speak for itself.
Directed by: Emelio Estevez
Starring: Martin Sheen, Emelio Estevez, Deborah Kara
Unger, Yorick van Wageningen, James Nesbit, Renee
Martin Sheen plays Tom, a California ophthalmologist
who was opposed to his son Daniel's (Emilio Estevez)
decision to quit grad school and see the world, sans
cell phone. He receives the call no parent wants to
hear -- his son has died in a sudden snowstorm in the
Pyrenees mountains of France on the first leg of the
Camino de Santiago. He flies to Spain to identify the
body and learns about the Camino from the police
official he must deal with. He makes an impulsive
decision to take up his son's journey, despite warnings
that he is older and untrained.
Tom keeps his grief to himself, he shows only a
curmudgeonly exterior. He reluctantly accepts
companionship from a Dutchman, Joost, who says he
is walking the Camino to lose weight. Tom carries
Daniel's ashes with him, leaving a handful here and
there along the path. He also sees Daniel along the
way, usually in situations where Daniel would
appreciate that moment of the journey.
The movie was filmed in sequence along the Camino
de Santiago. Director Estevez uses the scenery as
backdrop rather than making it the star, but we have
plenty of sequences of walking through the changing
countryside. The cinematography was not as great as
I wished for, but I was left longing to trek myself
through those villages and across that landscape.