- Director:Emilio Estevez
- Cast:Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger
- Release Date:April 26, 2012
- Running time:121 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.00
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A thoughtful and often beautiful cinematic journey – driven by a stand-out performance by Martin Sheen – but one that fails to offer any meaningful insight.
The father-son dynamic is tackled by the father-son team of Martin Sheen-Emilio Estevez in this restful meditation on love, loss and life. Tom (Sheen) is a comfortably well off professional living the country-club life in California when he receives news that his son, Daniel (Estevez), has died in Spain. They parted on uncomfortable terms, with Daniel declaring the need for a new life - starting with a trek across El Camino De Santiago De Compostela, an 800km pilgrim's trail in Northern Spain - and Tom convinced that his son was throwing a perfectly good one away. Tom travels to collect the body, and then decides to take his son's remains to Santiago by foot, a journey that will take two months.
God features heavily in this adaptation of Jack Hitt's book, as a thousand years of culture and ritual seep into Tom's lapsed Catholic life. Estevez has said that this is his father's best performance after Apocalypse Now. Well, he would, although it's a completely justifiable comment. Sheen is remarkable as a locked down father, torn with grief, who relearns the power of friendship as he also learns to embrace a new way of living. Road trips will do that to a man.
"Why are you here?" is a question that Tom is unwilling to answer. At least, not until he finds out himself. Religion, health, or simply a journey for journey's sake? It's all and none of these things, and therein lies the film's weakness. Estevez' vague approach successfully skirts cliché to present a rarefied experience, but in doing so fails to come down hard on any resounding issue. It lessens the story's potential impact as he drifts closer to travelogue than insightful drama. A two-hour plus running time doesn't help. The Way is an agreeable, thoughtful and often beautiful journey, but not an especially profound one.