title: THE WAY
cast: Martin Sheen
For a story about a father taking over the journey of his son, who died on the first day of the El Camino de Santiago… a spiritual-based hiking expedition from France to Spain… it’s not too bad. But as an ensemble involving three other hikers joining the trek, the film tries too hard making up for the difficulty of basing an entire movie on a long walking trip. Other than gorgeous exterior locations and peaks into various small towns along the way, what’s there to do? Well that’s what characters are for, but other than Martin Sheen as the grieving father, the eclectic tagalongs can be annoying: including an opinionated Canadian woman who yearns to quit smoking; a babbling Irish travelogue writer; and an overweight guy taking the comic relief mantle. The script and direction by Emilio Estevez are hit and miss – while the shots are beautiful and the quest is heartfelt, some of the dialog feels contrived: reminding us it's just a movie. And each problematic situation… like Sheen getting his son’s backpack and ashes stolen… are resolved way too easily (or quenched with a breezy feel-good tune). But it's the moments when we stick closely on the face of our protagonist that it seems a worthwhile journey. After all, it’s his story, and knowing his son (in the film) is not only on his mind, but is (in real life) behind the camera: that’s what really matters.