Movie Review: The Way

Tired of the Hollywood standard fare in the multiplexes, I looked for something different to watch today, and I found it: The Way is about a journey, literally and figuratively, on how to deal with generational differences, age-old traditions and personal challenges.

The movie is written and directed by Emilio Estevez, who also has a major/minor role in the film. It stars his father, Martin Sheen as Tom, a California’s ophthalmologist.

His somewhat estranged son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) was hiking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a thousand-year-old pilgrimage, an 800 kilometer hike from the French Pyrenees through Spanish mountains to the Cathedral de Santiago. On his first day out, in an accident in bad weather, he dies. We don’t find out how. His father gets the call on a golf course in Ventura.

He immediately travels to France to identify his son’s remains and bring him home. Instead, he ends up taking his hiking gear goes on the pilgrimage himself, sort of on his son’s behalf, and spreads his ashes along the way.

He meets up with a cast of colorful characters. Joost is a jolly Dutchman with a motormouth and a good supply of joints. Sarah is a Canadian divorcee with an attitude. Jack the Irishman is a writer mired in writer’s block. The four, as unlikely as they are as friends, end up doing the journey together, and of course there are adventures and surprises along the way.

The soundtrack is dreamy. The shots of the Spanish countryside are glorious. I didn’t feel the drudgery of hiking 500 miles on dusty roads over mountains. I wanted to be there hiking with them, somehow convinced that the music would be playing for me, too.

If you like hiking, quests, traditions of millenia, and old world charm, this movie of 127 minutes will captivate you.

I got up and decided that I’d have to hike the Camino de Santiago.

Rating: ***

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