Review: 'The Way' Discovers Life & Its Purpose
For the most part, LOVE is a powerful source of emotion which touches in the most unique ways ever. Whether romantic or friendly, innocently or familial, whether or not we may think some may be overdoing it lies within the core of our personal existence—or our own source of energy! Love is a mixture of blissfulness and total misery, depending how we’re experiencing it, and from a personal view, it sucks no matter how you cut it when you wind up with the short end of the stick. Romance hurts, but one recovers, the loss of an uncle, brother or even parent is even harsher, but time heals those wounds, however, from those who have experienced it, I’ve always heard that pain from a parent losing a child and/or grown son/daughter is one of the most intense feelings unexplainable to anyone. In other words, unless you’re going through it, you don’t know. And from that moment on, life takes one on a path which leads in many different directions—including one that opens up reasoning and acceptance regarding certain ways, whether we embrace it or not.
With that said…Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to say Emilio Estevez translated that act very well from paper to camera, leaving me with a strong feeling of KNOWING this is indeed one of the most emotionally driven films I’ve seen this year.
Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. Driven by his profound sadness and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage, leaving his “California bubble life” behind. Armed with his son’s backpack and guidebook, Tom navigates the over 450 mile pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees, to Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain, but soon discovers that he’s not be alone on this journey.
While walking The Camino, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, all broken and looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) who is suffering from a bout of “writer’s block.” From the hardship experienced along “The Way” this unlikely quartet of misfits create an everlasting bond and Tom begins to learn what it means to be a citizen of the world again, and discovers the difference between “The life we live and the life we choose."
The tactics used in character building were one of the best I’ve seen yet, resembling an all too familiar film from many years ago in THE WIZARD OF OZ. THE WAY presents the format in a much deeper sense and geared towards adults, rather than the cute little munchkins and bad special F/X, but it works. Every character in this film stands firm within their purposes of break-down and all clearly open up with the obvious sense of doing what they’re doing for a passion which stems deeper than they ever imagined.
What also makes this film interesting and also fun to watch is its services as a tour-guide. Scenery in this film is simply amazing. The tour moves right along with the characters as they take off, and the utter authenticity of a world beyond most of us may ever even see plays well parallel to the meaning of desire, goals and the great lengths we all tend to go and/or explore for our own purpose of will and love.
There isn’t a moment in this film which remains dull—although others may beg to differ. The dialog is sharp as it mixes drama with comedy, the score fits every setting nicely and the most astonishing thing which remains within me is THE WAY was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago.
GRADE: A / GENRE: Drama/Adventure / RATED: PG-13 / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 55 Min
STARRING: Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbit, Emilio Estevez, Angela Molina, Eusebio Lazaro
DIRECTOR: Emilio Estevez
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