Thanks to Matthew Pejkovic for this addition to The Forgotten series. You can read more of Matt’s writing here [Ed].
In 2011 the world looked on in morbid fascination as actor -and self-declared “warlock”- Charlie Sheen imploded in a very public and bizarre meltdown following his termination from the popular TV comedy Two and a Half Men.
Yet while the masses were fixated on Charlie Sheen’s pop-art-insanity, his older brother Emilio Estevez released The Way, a tender drama that moves both the heart and the soul with its deeply spiritual exploration into grief and pilgrimage. Based upon Jack Hitt’s novel “Off the Road”, the film is adapted and directed by Estevez who with every feature film goes from strength to strength, proving to be a filmmaker worth anticipating.
The Way takes place on The Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage undertaken by people world over for religious and non-religious reasons alike. Stretching over 800 km from the edge of France and across the Spanish coastline, the Camino path ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where it is said the remains of St. James the Apostle is buried.
Starring is the legendary Martin Sheen, father of Emilio and Charlie and star of classics such as Badlands and Apocalypse Now, who at the age of 72 delivered one of his best performances as Tom Avery, an American doctor who is startled when informed his estranged son (suitably played by Estevez) has died while walking the Camino. Tom travels to France and continues his son’s pilgrimage, mourning his loss while spreading his son’s ashes along the way.
While doing so Tom meets other pilgrims who have their own demons to exorcise. There is an overweight Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen), an angry Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and a writer’s block suffering Irishman (James Nesbitt). At times this group with their individual eccentricities remind of Dorothy and her friends walking the yellow brick road to Oz.
Yet their destination is not only a place of bricks and mortar, it is also a place of personal and spiritual resonance. When Sheen’s character begins his journey he is heartbroken, angry and stubborn in his lapsed Catholicism. When he ends it not only has he come to terms with the loss of his son, but he has also re-established his relationship with God through his Catholic Christianity. That Estevez manages to portray this spiritual and religious reconnect with such great sensitivity and non-pious tone is a feat in itself.
The breathtaking scenery featured throughout The Way plays its part and plays it well. Estevez allows time to soak in the sights of every village, town and stretch of land passed during this journey that it will prompt many to call their travel agent. In the process Estevez has created quite the moving film that holds much spiritual resonance, no doubt touching the hearts and souls of those who decided to turn away from the Charlie Sheen freak show and immerse themselves in the undervalued gem by Emilio Estevez.
By Matthew Pejkovic
Follow Matt on Twitter @Mattsmovierev