Friday, February 24, 2012

The Way - Movie Review

Watched this delightful 2010 film starring Martin Sheen and his real-life son Emelio Estevez, the older brother of Charlie Sheen (born Carlos Estevez). 'The Way' was made by this father-son duo to honour the Camino de Santiago, an ancient Catholic pilgrim route that originates from several places  in France and other countries and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain where the remains of the apostle St. James are believed to be kept. Traditionally undertaken by walk, from the door of the pilgrim to the Cathedral, the Campino is now undertaken by many on cycles, horses and even donkeys. Starting from the French Pyranees at Roncesvalles, the journey is an 800 km trip going through a picturesque countryside and is symbolised by a Galician scallop which is sometimes worn as a badge.

The movie takes you through the the entire length of the traditional Campino. Dr. Tom Avery, an opthalmologist from the US gets a call that his forty year old son - with whom he never saw eye-to-eye on matters regarding life - has died in a storm in the French Pyranees while on the Campino trip. The guilt ridden father arrives to take his son's body home but decides on an impulse to cremate his son's body and carry his ashes along the Campino route - as his son's last journey with him. The old doctor takes off stubbornly refusing advise from many not to take the arduous 800 kms route. Withdrawn and wanting to be with his thoughts as he journeys along, he bumps into a gregarious Dutchman Joost, a party loving, overweight man, who is on the Campino to lose weight for his brother's wedding and also be be more desirable to his wife. They are joined by a Canadian Sarah who is ostensibly on the Campino to quit smoking but in reality is escaping her abusive husband and lost child in an abortion. An Irish writer with a writer's block joins them and completes the quartet. They walk along through the established pilgrim routes, getting their Pilgrim passport stamped, enjoying the journey, having fun, fighting and growing. As they end of the journey they all become people who are more at peace with themselves. Dr. Avery takes the completion Compostela certificate in his son's name - Daniel Avery. The other three decide to join the doctor on his trek beyond Santiago where he finally scatters his son's ashes in the ocean.

It is a movie that is made by someone for whom the Campino means much. The trail has some wonderful landscapes and makes you want to go and join the Campino and walk the 800 kms. I am not sure about the Campino but I am keen to walk on a smaller trek - perhaps walk the length of Goa as Koni and I had planned - to start with. 'The Way' is rather long at 2 hours for an English film but it does not bore you if you are in the mood for it. There are many lovely songs that are played in the background as well including Alanis Morisette's 'Thank You'. Watch it if you're a travel person, nature person, are introspective and want to see a movie made for the love of it.


Anonymous said...

From an 82 yr old lady.
Loved every aspect of this film, storyline, scenery & cast

Couldn't believe I'd been watching the film for 2 hours.

Harimohan said...

Dear Anon,
I remember the movie well even now, which says much in its favour. Most other movies I forget or get confused about what it was all about. Glad you liked the movie and gladder that you wrote on the blog. Maybe you'd like watching 'Rabbit Proof Fence' also.