In the 2010 film ‘The Way’, Martin Sheen plays an ophthalmologist living the country club lifestyle in California, when he gets the terrible news about his son (played by Sheen’s real-life son Emilio Estevez) that every parent dreads and is never prepared for. This film follows Sheen as he attempts to complete the hike his son started on foot, traveling from France to Spain, but never finished.
Estevez wrote, produced, and directed this film and tees up his Old Man for perhaps Sheen’s best acting role since ‘The West Wing‘ series on television. Sheen’s character, Tom, begins the film focused solely on himself and his golf foursome with little desire for understanding of what fuels his son’s soul. After receiving the news of the accidental death, Tom slowly begins to grief, cope, understand, and then follow in his son’s steps along this inspirational cinema trip. The movie’s careful, yet never over-sold father & son story is authentic and believable in no small part due to Estevez and Sheen’s actual relationship…and may not have been achievable to the level of success it was in the film without that real bond between them.
The movie’s heartwarming journey begins with a father attempting to learn more about his son, but ends with the father learning more about himself…and others. The 800 km (nearly 497 miles) walk in the film covers the beautiful French and Spanish landscapes while contrasting those two cultures with playful nods towards our Americanisms.
An excellent cast and brilliant photography provide ‘The Way‘ to an emotional trek–with frequent stops for rest and humility. This film is not about choosing a life, but living one. Somewhere along El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) in the movie you’ll find yourself looking for reasons why you’d want to complete the pilgrimage. And that’s probably the best gift of this film–the introspect.
‘The Way’ is Rated PG-13 and is 1 hour, 55 minutes in length.
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