Review: The Way

Emilio Estevez’s latest feature as director, The Way reteams him with his father Martin Sheen.  Here we see optician Tom (Sheen) receive the tragic news that his son has died whilst travelling in the Pyrenees. Tom soon learns that his son (Estevez) was making the Camino de Santiago, a spiritual pilgrimage to Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In an effort to understand his son better, Tom decides to make this pilgrimage himself.

It’s hard not to be inspired by The Way. The film is visually beautiful with Estevez making tremendous use of the rural European locations throughout the film.  These are presented to us in a warm and welcoming light but also make it feel as though you are learning about the culture and history of these places. This really shows Estevez’s eye for eye for detail and truly painting a picture, proving he’s equally talented as both director and actor. It is not a complicated story, which is one of the film’s strengths. It is a simple tale of human interest and character development that proves extremely captivating throughout. We see Tom’s gradual change from a cynical US optician to someone making a spiritual journey for themselves and a deceased love one. It’s incredibly touching to see Tom’s attachment to his son’s ashes and the way he carefully spreads them along the walk.

Considering the religious subject matter, this is never in your face. Estevez does not force you into believing that his faith is right, this is more of a representation of human kindness than of religion.  This idea is furthered by the several supporting characters Tom meets on his journey – from overweight Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen), cynical Canuck (Deborah Kara Unger) and struggling writer (James Nesbitt). The story of friendship and kindness formed between these four characters really steers the film.  When Tom first meets these characters, they can appear slightly aggravating, however, like Tom does, the audience begins to feel slightly attached to them also. The union of these four broken characters acts as a great tale of friendship and human decency, remaining engaging throughout the film.

The characters are all wonderfully developed and it is a joy to watch them change throughout the film. Martin Sheen’s performance really carries the film and it is wonderful to see him a lead role, after what it seems like has been decades of supporting roles. Sheen proves he can still cut it as a leading man with this subtle, yet extremely moving performance – where he features in almost every scene of the 130 minute feature.  As well as perfect emotional drama, The Way features some light comedy throughout, as well as perfectly chosen soundtrack.

The Way is an inspirational and well crafted drama from Emilio Estevez. As well as being visually stunning and insightful, the film’s subject matter is extremely powerful, like its lead performance from Martin Sheen.  The Way is this year’s must see film and will genuinely make you reflect on your own life.

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