The Way (2012)

  • Director – Emilio Estevez
  • Starring – Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, James Nesbit
  • Written By – Jack Hitt (book), Emilio Estevez (written for the screen)
  • Year – 2012
  • Length – 123 mins

The Way is a powerful, yet simple and really quite moving film, which tells the story of Tom (Martin Sheen) whose son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez) dies during the first night of his trek along the “El camino de Santiago”, an 800-kilometre pilgrimage from the bottom of France to the top of Spain. After travelling to France to bring Daniel home, Tom is compelled to carry Daniel’s ashes the length of the pilgrimage, so together they can finish what Daniel started.

I always find it fascinating to see a Father and Son on screen together.  A son directing his father must have made for an interesting on set dynamic.  However the results are impressive, as through Estevez’s stripped back direction and Sheen’s rich, layered and above all else authentic performance, they have delivered a film of which the family should be proud.  If only Charlie could have had a cameo……then again maybe not.

There are strong emotions at play here and the film feels very raw throughout.  Tom sets off on his impromptu journey full of Jed Bartlett stubbornness and determined to keep his own counsel.  However, this independence is soon challenged by one of the joys of travelling, which are those random occurrences with strangers that seem to come from a shared experience of adventure into the unknown.

Here Tom is introduced to three other pilgrims each with their own personal reasons for making this journey.  James Nesbit as Jack the quirky Irish writer struggling with nervous editors and writers block, is a touch stereotypical but lots of fun; Deborah Kara Unger as Sarah is an angry Canadian apparently on a the pilgrimage in a bid to quick smoking (at the end…), but the star is the loveable Dutchman Yoost (Yorick van Wageningen) a sort of mobile chubby Amsterdam hash bar on the pilgrimage to lose a few kilos. After some initial hesitation from Tom, the dynamic between the group grows and a camaraderie soon develops; it is fascinating to watch the barriers between them come down as they bond and share secrets in a way that only strangers will do.

The other lead star in this film is the “El camino de Santiago” itself.  The scenery provides a spectacular backdrop to the character led drama unfolding beneath and I would wager that everyone who watches this film now harbors a desire to make the journey themselves. Estevez makes full use of these rich surroundings and the entire film seems to have been shot in natural light.  This works well so emphasizing the realism that runs throughout.

I have been chasing The Way for almost a year now after first catching a trailer last summer and I am glad that I finally managed to track it down on the big screen.  It is an entertaining, touching and moving film, which takes you on a journey that I recommend everyone take.


Review by Will Malone

If you liked The Way, then try Wild.

3 thoughts on “The Way (2012)

  1. Good review of a good film. My favourite moment is at the beginning, when Tom gets the news of his son. The way he says “Something happened to Daniel?” is so authentic and heartbreaking. You really feel like his whole world was shattered in that instant. Great performance by Martin Sheen.

    • Thanks a lot. I too liked that line and it that was one of the hooks in the trailer that reeled me in. I was also impressed at how similar Martin and Emilio looked in the car on the way to the airport. I never really thought they looked that alike until this film. I wonder how intentional it was?

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