TOF and I loved this film. It’s the story of a rather conservative father (Martin Sheen) who goes to France to collect the body of his free-spirited son who has been found dead on the French side of the Pyrenees of the El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). After the heart wrenching viewing of his son’s body, (Sheen’s real-life son Emilio Estevez, who directed the film, was in the body bag) he makes the uncharacteristically spontaneous decision to walk the Camino for his son, who didn’t make it far, and scatter his ashes along the way. He sets off, determined to complete the task as quickly as possible, but along ‘the way” meets a ragtag group of characters who help him slow down and enjoy the journey, and in the process truly honour his son, as well as himself.
The film has its flaws. There are a few script issues and James Nesbitt’s appearance is quite jarring at first. However it’s an obvious labour of love that asks some important questions and is at times deeply moving. The landscape is delicious, and there are some great characters that the main character meets along the way. A lot of the film is understated, which is so rare for an American film, and you end up feeling like you too have taken the journey along the Camino. It’s a wonderful film for travellers, and if you haven’t already walked the Camino then you’ll probably add it to your list.
The Way is a beautiful reminder to treasure life and embrace the journey. As the movie poster logline reminds you, don’t choose your life… live it.