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The Way
DVD disk
02.28.2012 By: Jason Adams
The Way order
Director:
Emilio Estevez

Actors:
Martin Sheen
Deborah Kara Unger
Yorick van Wageningen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After his estranged son is killed while walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain, an aging man decides to honor his life by finishing the 400 mile trek with his ashes.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Whoa, where’d this movie come from?

Emilio Estevez’s last directorial effort BOBBY was a pretentious, star-studded chore, but THE WAY peels back all the posturing and navel gazing for a simpler, more heartfelt story. Filled with humor, drama and poignant reflection, it has a great mix of emotions to propel its plot.

Using a very small cast and crew, as well as other real-life travelers, THE WAY is a love letter to the famous pilgrimage trail, where people from around the world walk together for spiritual and other personal reasons. The film makes great use of the beautiful French and Spanish scenery and powerful imagery along the way, reminiscent of Peter Weir’s similar THE WAY BACK. (Tyler Bates’ SIgur Ros-inspired score is also a perfect fit for the material.) I bet a lot of viewers will watch this and at least be tempted to take a couple months off and do it themselves.

The tale is especially more moving when you consider the personal connection behind it, with Estevez writing for and directing his father Martin Sheen based on their own 2003 trip to the Camino (Way of St. James). They’ve turned their experiences in to a story of a father dealing with the loss of his son, taking on a literal life-changing journey and meeting an interesting cast of equally lost characters along the way. Sheen gives a powerful performance that anchors everything together, though given the on-location filming it wouldn’t be hard to lose yourself in the role.

At two hours, THE WAY is a bit too long, meandering with little anecdotes and episodes that are clearly pulled from Estevez’s own journey—almost like a travelogue of cool things they saw on their trip. All the tangents fit thematically, but pacing-wise it could be tightened for the viewer. The writing is also a bit heavy handed in spots, with the dialogue feeling more scripted than natural on occasion, but the emotional notes behind it still feels honest and given the natural ease of the material, it’s hard to fault the film for it at all.
THE EXTRAS
The commentary is nice, but I would’ve loved some more in-depth features about the making of the film.

Commentary by Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez and producer David Alexanian: As it’s based on their personal experiences, Sheen and Estevez obviously have plenty of interesting stuff to say about the unique minimalist production and the inspiration behind it. If you enjoyed the film, you’ll probably get something out of this.

Camino Americana: Taking The Way on the Road (2:53): A quick recap of the cross-country bus tour Estevez and Sheen took to promote the film in 2011.

Pilgrimage: Behind the Camera (3:00): An all-too-brief compilation of behind the scenes footage.

Father and Son: Uncovering the Characters (1:49): A very short interview with Estevez and Sheen about their connection to the film.

The Journey of a Father and Son: Short text excerpts from Estevez and Sheen’s soon to be published book about the production of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE WAY is an inspirational and personal story about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, with an enlightening performance by Martin Sheen. It also happens to be directed by Emilio Estevez.

Extra Tidbit: When they traveled the Camino de Santiago in 2003, Estevez’s 19 year old son Taylor fell in love with a girl, moved to Spain and married her.
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