Charlie Sheen may have spent much of this year on the warpath, but it’s heartening to find that father Martin Sheen and brother Emilio Estevez are still capable of concentrating on ‘the work’. With Estevez in the director’s chair, and Sheen in front of the camera, The Way is a timely showcase of the talent that still resides in this uniquely controversy-courting of Hollywood families.
Thomas Avery (Sheen) is a near-retirement doctor whose restless son Daniel (Estevez) dies in the Pyrenees while tackling the Camino de Santiago, a Christian pilgrimage trail that leads to the Spanish Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Journeying to France to pick up Daniel’s ashes, Thomas makes a split-second decision to walk the Santiago trail himself, and scatter Daniel’s ashes along the way.
Hippy mentality ebbs through The Way as Thomas encounters numerous intriguing pilgrims – among them James Nesbitt’s motormouth writer and Deborah Kara Unger’s angry enigma Sarah. Recalling Sheen’s The West Wing, The Way is a ponderous, surprisingly joyful drama that revels in character beats and inner discoveries. Sheen himself proves as enigmatic a lead as he ever was, alternately warm, out of control and distant.
Estevez’s greatest achievement as director is nimbly weathering the pitfalls of the average road movie. Where other journey-based films have succumbed to the trap of a methodical, sequential framework, Estevez dodges such hazards by harnessing a lively pace, and packing his film with colourful characters and breathtaking vistas. The soundtrack is also unexpectedly lively, a left-field resurrection of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Thank You’ lifting an extended montage into sonorous paradise. At two and a bit hours, it’s just a pinch too long. But when that’s the worst that can be said about a film revolving around a man walking a really, really long way, you know you’re onto a winner. 3/5
Via Out In The City