Cast: Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen
Director: Emilio Estevez
Martin Sheen stars in this film directed by his son Emilio.
Sheen stars as Thomas Avery, a widowed ophthalmologist, who's also estranged from his son, Daniel. Avery's drive these days is his work but one day, his world is shattered when he gets a call from a French policeman telling him that his son's dead.
Daniel had been killed in the Pyrenees, walking the Camino de Santiago, a Christian pilgrim route made by thousands. This news, coupled with the fact Thomas wasn't sure why Daniel was doing the route, throws his world into turmoil.
So, setting out to retrieve the body in France, Tom decides on the spur of the moment to walk the route himself - to try and reacquaint himself with his son and find out why he was doing what he was doing.
The Way is a gentle, unassuming and moving film which has an emotional resonance from beginning to end.
Thanks, in a large part, due to Martin Sheen's subtly layered performance; the guy is a powerhouse of an acting talent who takes you through this road movie despite its occasional faults and flashbacks to Tom and Daniel's relationship. His tetchy and grumpy Tom is very relatable and watchable as the film unfolds and his dynamic with the other travellers is perfectly understandable for anyone who's been backpacking.
Estevez does a good job of this writer/ director piece - even if he does occasionally sentimentally over-egg the pudding by inserting shots of Tom seeing Daniel at key moments on the walk. It's unnecessary and heavy handed. But beautiful shots of scenes along the way help to hint at something a little majestic in places.
While The Way is perhaps predictable in plot and denouement, it's simply unmissable as a piece of inspirational cinema- it's the characters' dynamics and relationships which make it so enjoyable and touching; as a character piece, it's gentle, unassuming, touching, reflective, emotionally satisfying and soulful.