Monday, October 24, 2011
"The Way" Earnest Family Project
“The Way” an Inspirational Film for Non-Religious People
By Skip Sheffield
“The Way” is tangible proof Martin Sheen is a good father. He’s a good grandfather too.
“The Way” is a family project for acclaimed actor Martin Sheen, his son Emilio Estevez and grandson Taylor Estevez.
Taylor Estevez, then 19, in 2003 undertook an 800-kilometer pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, from the French Pyrenees to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Actually Taylor drove the route with his grandfather, Martin Sheen, but the trip so inspired him his convinced his father, director-actor-writer Emilio Estevez, the subject was worthy of a film.
You could file “The Way” under “I” for inspirational, but it is not that simple. Emilio Estevez has crafted an entertaining fable about ordinary, non-religious people looking for meaning in their lives.
Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) is a California eye doctor whose son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) perished at the outset of a pilgrimage on “The Way” to Santiago. Avery drops everything to fly to France to identify his son’s body. When the body is cremated, Tom is inspired to undertake the pilgrimage himself to better understand his long-estranged son.
Along the way Tom meets three central characters who travel with him. The first is Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), a jolly Dutchman who is doing the pilgrimage simply to lose weight and get in better shape. Joost has an ample supply of pot and other mind-altering substances to make the journey easier.
Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger) is an angry divorced Canadian woman. Her quest is to stop smoking. Why she has to go all the way to Spain to do this is never explained.
Finally there is “Jack from Ireland,” a blocked writer of travel stories who would like to write a great novel.
Estevez freely admits he was inspired by “The Wizard of Oz,” with naïve Dorothy and three ragtag oddball characters she meets on a quest to see the Wonderful Wizard.
There is no Wizard in “The Way,” but there is a physical goal and an unspoken spiritual message to make the most of whatever life throws at you. This is a religious movie for non-religious people, anchored by the quiet power of Martin Sheen, an actor who knows how to convey grief, anger, frustration and joy without making a big show of it.