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“The Way” – Review (POSITIVE)

October 18, 2011

After seeing this film, the first thing I thought to myself, ‘This can’t be the same Emilio Estevez who directed “Rated X” &“Men at Work”, can it?’ “Bobby” was an ok film, sloppy in the writing, and too many characters for the movies own benefit, but that’s for another review. But, I’m happy to report that“The Way” is Estevez’s first real terrific movie (in my opinion). It’s a beautifully acted, well-conceived, age-old tale about fathers & their sons.

Doctor Tom Avery (Martin Sheen), a California eye doctor, has recently learned that his only child, 40-year-old Daniel (Estevez), was killed in a horrible accident in the south of France. Daniel was readying himself for the way. The way is a trek known as the Camino De Santiago, which begins at the French border and winds its way through Spain to Galicia. For some who walk the way, it can be a religious experience, others for health, and for some trying to find answers. Tom arrives n France to identify the body, he decides to have Daniel cremated, and finish the way for his son. The two may have not seen eye-to-eye, but Tom loved Daniel, and feels he owes him this.

Along the way, Tom meets some interesting character, all who are trekking for their own self-fulfillment. Tom first meets Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), a Dutch man whose plan is to lose weight by doing the trip. Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), a Canadian woman with a checkered past is doing this walk to forget it all, and start clean. Meanwhile, she’s still addicted to her cigarettes, perhaps she’ll find a way to quit. Finally, comes Jack (James Nesbitt), from Ireland, he’s a writer for traveling magazines. He’s hit writers block and hopes that the voyage of Camino de Santiago will open those blocked doors.

The films true focus is about the possibilities of one finding that miracle. It can be the tiniest thing, but it can make all the difference in ones world. Tom sees his son everywhere on the trip, as he spreads Daniels ashes in certain places on the way.

Writer/Director Emilio Estevez shows us this to give Tom that drive to continue on no matter what. It’s a cheesy tool in schmaltzy dramas such as this one, but even minimal cliché’s seem to be ok for this movie. Cliché’s are not the focus here it’s Tom. In the film, we see in some flashbacks of the disagreements Tom & Daniel shared. Daniel quit his doctrine in anthropology, so he can explore the world. Throughout the journey, there are two key scenes that parrallel Tom & Daniel’s relationship. Without much spoilers, one deals with a Spaniard doing a bullfight with a tablecloth, the other about a gypsy father & son that Tom has a run-in with. ‘Children, they are the very best & worst of us’, says one father to another in this film.

Martin Sheen works magic in his performance, perhaps it comes from the great direction from Estevez. The son directing his father, it just seems to have a great dynamic for a drama such as this one. The movie made me smile, it made me empathize with a strain of confused characters, yearning for self-redemption. What made this movie work, was in fact getting the audience to empathize, which is hard to come by in this day in age of film.


Special thanks to Rochelle Slofkis for attending the screening & input on the film

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