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"The Way" - {Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Edward McNulty
Studio: Arc Entertainment
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
February 21, 2012
Special Features:

See Below

Review:

By far the best film currently showing, this combination of the themes of father-son relationship and on-the-road, features real life father Martin Sheen directed by his son Emilio Estevez. The latter plays the son Daniel in flashback scenes, and even wrote the script inspired by experiences that he and his father had when several years ago when they walked the pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago, in English known as "The Way of St. James" or, simply, "The Way." ***

Sheen plays Dr. Tom Avery, an ophthalmologist who has settled into the routine of life, estranged years earlier from his free-spirited son Daniel. He receives word of Danielís death, the young man having started out on a pilgrimage which began in the French Pyrenees and was to continue for over 500 miles through northern Spain to the great cathedral in Santiago.***

When he goes to retrieve the body, Tom learns that a freak change in the weather had led to his sonís death just a short time after he had begun the walk. Impulsively, he decides to finish Danielís pilgrimage using the gear left behind. Carting Danielís ashes in an urn stowed into the backpack, Tom meets many people on the journey, including three who become his close companions, none of whom started with any religious motive. ***

The first of the three is a big bear of a friendly Dutchman named Joost (Yorick van Wageningen). When Tom rebuffs him several times and the guy keeps coming back, I couldnít help but think of Donkey in Shrek. Joost is walking the Way to lose some of his weight, but he loves food so much that he keeps stuffing himself despite his professed goal. Then there is the angry Canadian Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), who sees the trek as a way to quit smoking, and yet she keeps on lighting up, even when Tom urges her to stop. Put off by Tomís reserve and seriousness, she asks, ďDoesn't this guy ever stop to smell the flowers?Ē The third companion is the motor mouth Jack (James Nesbitt), an Irish writer who hopes to get over his writerís block by walking the Way. Whatís funny about him is that he writes guidebooks, not fiction! How can anyone get writerís block while writing something as prosaic as a guidebook!? ***

Other facts about and motives of the characters are learned as they walk, sometimes together, often (in Tomís case) alone, and when they stop along the way. Some of the people they meet are also interesting: an inn keeper who wants to be a bull fighter; a kindly priest suffering from brain cancer; and the head of a gypsy family distressed by the prejudice against his people. That his young son steals Tomís backpack with the precious urn doesnít help matters. What follows that night and next morning makes for moving viewing. ***

Along the way Tom thinks back upon a number of the times spent with his son. Regretting now that he had always disapproved of the young manís free-spirited lifestyle, which he had regarded as irresponsible, he recalls Danielís response to his urging him to choose a life: ďYou don't choose a life, dad. You live one.Ē***

Special Features:

Camino Americana: Taking The Way on the Road

Pilgrimage: Behind the Camera

Father and Son: Uncovering the Characters

Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and SonóA Dual Memoir by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez/Bonus Trailer

Final Words:

The photography of the mountains and of the sea adds much to the story. A deeply spiritual film, without becoming explicitly Christian, the director/writerís attention to small details, of the journey and of the development of the various characters (including that of a proud and honest gypsy father), will embed this film in your memory long after those of lesser films have into oblivion.***

 

 
 
 
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