The Way (2010)

The Way
Director: Emilio Estevez
Writer: Emilio Estevez
Based on: Jack Hitt‘s book Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain
Cast: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wangeningen, James Nesbitt

After Tom (Martin Sheen) gets the news that his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) died in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago. So Tom flies to France to pick up the body. But once he arrives there he finds himself changing his plans and deciding to finish Daniel’s pilgrimage for hime. Along the way, Tom quite involuntarily picks up Jost (Yorick van Wangeningen), Sarah (Debora Kara Unger) and Jack (James Nesbitt) who are all walking the Camino for their own reasons.

I was prepared for not liking the film very much – it is a film about a pilgrimage after all and I’m not good with religion. That being said, the film was surprisingly nice over very long stretches.


The film started off fine. There were some pretty clunky exposition monologues and dialogues, but it’s the Martin Sheen show and that’s generally a very good program. And that his Tom is not that religious kept at least the first two thirds of the film from becoming too suffocating for an atheist like me.

Unfortunately apart from Tom, the movie isn’t very good to its characters. Jack doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: he is introduced as a ranting lunatic in the middle of a psychotic episode, basically (and James Nesbitt is wonderful in it), but after the introduction he’s all normal and nothing like this ever happens again. Jost is extremely sad and lonely which he hides under an armor of jolly friendliness and he’s also the only one who doesn’t get what he wanted from the pilgrimage – but because he is jolly and fat, nobody within the film seems to notice, nor the people making the film. That makes his storyline hollow and ring untrue.

But the worst offender was Sarah’s story. Anytime a troubled woman shows up in a (semi-)religious movie, it turns out that she’s been abused and had an abortion. And now she’s troubled because she’s had that abortion and the voice of her unborn child is still haunting her and really, no matter how bad it is, abortion will always scar the woman and she will regret it always and forever. It made me want to scream. Loudly and continuously.

At least Tom’s story works. And walking the Camino looked like it was really nice. Almost motivated even my lazy ass to go walking a bit more.

Summarising: It’s watchable, especially if you don’t mind/ignore the religious parts.

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