Today: May 23, 2024

The Way

A film addressing the relationship between father and middle aged son, sprawled across the European countryside and 90% involving Martin Sheen walking was never going to scream to the youth of today.

A film addressing the relationship between father and middle aged
son, sprawled across the European countryside and 90% involving Martin
Sheen walking was never going to scream to the youth of today. The
latest from Emilio Estevez’ directing streak about a cross man (Sheen)
walking El camino de Santiago to scatter the ashes of his lost boy
(Estevez) is bound to be rife with Hallmark flashbacks and The Way is
riddled with them no doubt, but for one of the few members of the
audience under 50 it wasn’t bad.

Starting with an end, Sheen’s solitary eye doctor Tom learns of the
death of his free spirited son Daniel who strayed from the beaten track
whilst venturing along the lengthy path from France to Spain. Tom sets
off the recover the body and, after various quite cringeworthy
flashbacks where Daniel lectures his father on the importance of getting
“out there” with various “you don’t choose life you live it” type
speeches, decides to walk the path himself, son’s ashes in tow, and give
him a proper send off.

The concept of a pensioner outdoing his son on the path of pilgrims may seem somewhat hard to believe
but stranger things happened in film last year when The Way first
screened at Toronto, Jeff Bridges digitally remastered perhaps or Sarah
Jessica Parker genuinely bewildered that Sex and the City 2 wasn’t
getting a sequel. And this is Martin Sheen.

There’s no denying this is the Sunday afternoon of film. As
previously mentioned there is a hell of a lot of walking and frankly not
a lot else. But the cinematography is thoughtful and the scenery enough to make the Spanish tourist board blush,
providing colourful frames for Tom to amble through and at times some
insightful peeks into backyard of Europe. Even Estevez knows this isn’t
quite enough though and so some supporting cast are thrown in to mix
things up, most notably from our patch James Nesbitt as dried up author
Jack on the road to get his creative spark back.

With the introduction of his new companions Tom inevitably begins to
absorb some of their traits, reluctantly for the most part, and see the
world differently. The chemistry between this odd group is actually
charming despite consisting of a throng of clichés; a sour Canadian
woman (Deborah Kara Unger) claiming to be travelling to quit smoking but really with a dark past and a chubby Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) trying to lose weight but refusing to stop eating.

Quite used to life behind camera Estevez should know not to dwell,
and as the pace becomes bloated during the second half you wish they’d
hurry up a bit given you know what happens in the end. Perhaps this is
because the focus is indeed hoping to fall on the journey and the
development of these main characters but it gets repetitive after not
very long; Sheen moody and not speaking much, Unger pouting, Nesbitt
drinking and the Dutchman being a bit silly. Consequently when they
reach their destination you feel you would care more if time was shaven
off the middle act spurring enjoyment rather than impatience. Sheen is
reserved throughout, doing well to portray a man angry with life and to
begin with his son. The fact that Daniel is played by his son probably
helped a lot but it seems to work. A little emotive drive then, a little
humour, some mild drama and a pleasant ending. A long way off Estevez’s more renowned Bobby but still makes for a pleasurable outing, maybe with old people on tow.

Beth Webb - Events Editor

I aim to bring you a round up of the best film events in the UK, no matter where you are or what your preference. For live coverage of events across London, follow @FilmJuice

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