The Way review

The Way isn't flashy – it doesn't have any loud bangs, there are no fast cars and it's not full of scantilly clad women. Instead what you get in Emilio Estevez's film is a thoughtful story, beautiful scenery and an excellent performance from the lead actor.

Sheen stars as Tom whose son Daniel goes off to walk El camino de Santiago (aka The Way) from France to Spain. But tragedy strikes and Tom decides to fulfil his son's ambition for him. During his journey he meets fellow pilgrims each with different reasons for walking The Way: Joost (van Wageningen) wants to lose weight; Sarah (Unger) promises she'll stop smoking once she reaches the end and Jack (Nesbitt) is trying to get over his writer's block.

Obviously this is a film about a journey – both figuratively and metaphorically. As Tom begins the walk in France he is mourning his son and wants to try and understand him a bit better. Estevez uses flashbacks to show the audience that Tom never really understood Daniel. Sheen delivers a really strong performance as Tom, nearly always understated and giving him a quiet dignity never descending into sentimentality which would have been easy given the real father/son relationship on show here. The supporting cast do well, even Nesbitt, and the beautiful scenery almost becomes another character – special mention to cinematographer Juan Miguel Azpirov.

As I said, this film isn't flashy but it's certainly not boring. It is a thoughtful film dealing with an interesting subject which stays with you after the credits role. It's an excellent collaboration between director and star (and father and son). It has a serious subject but also nice flashes of comedy, there's a scene where Tom gets drunk which I enjoyed, particularly as Sheen's a famous non-drinker. I don't want to say it leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling but actually it does because you get so caught up in the film's warmth, emotion and sincerity. It's an example of how you don't need fast cars, loud bangs or scantically-clad women to make a thoroughly absorbing and enjoyable film.

Official Site
The Way at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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