Movie review - The Way
I posted some information about the Sheen family collaborative film "The Way" some months ago when it first came out, but up until a couple of days ago I had not actually seen it.
That has however changed as I bought the DVD and watched it on 1st January 2012. The movie stars Martin Sheen as a character called Tom and is directed by his son Emilio Estevez.
The thing that surprised me about this film from the day that it was first "briefly" publicised was the lack of real promotion, the opening in only a limited number of cinemas, and the extended delay between the cinema release and the DVD release. Why?
Unfortunately I got the answer over the course of the two hours that I spent sitting through "The Way". Regrettably this is just a very bad movie. The basic plot gives some justification to Martin Sheen's character walking the Camino, but in every other way possible this is a ridiculous, purile and totally un-entertaining film. Some of the scenes are almost too stupid for words and worst of all the opportunity to showcase the spectacular scenery found along the Camino is completely lost – it could have been filmed anywhere.
I should point out that one, I was looking forward to watching this movie and two, I like both of the Sheens who are in it (and who wrote it). I certainly have no axe to grind and I really wanted to like it, but it is simply rubbish from start to finish. The holes and irritations in the story really are two many to list, but examples include -
- The Sheen character, well in his sixties, deciding at a minutes notice to walk the full Camino from France to Santiago and not in the summer period. (Remember that his healthy son has just died on the Camino due to the bad weather). He starts off in the wrong direction (so does not even recognise the Camino markers), yet we are expected to believe that when out in the mountains alone he becomes a competent trekker – literally overnight.
He is punched in the face by a fellow female trekker, basically for nothing. This adds zip to the plot, but the explanation is that her husband use to beat her. That "really makes sense" and insults women who have suffered this violence and who would never dare lift a finger in defence.
On getting his Compostela (completion certificate) he asks for the name he initially gave to be changed to that of his son. Without requiring proof of who he is or any other explanation this is done.
What I don't understand is why any of this superfluous nonsense needed to be added. The basic story of a man finding out that his son had died on the Camino, then going over to France to collect his body, and then deciding to undertake a Camino himself, is enough. The places covered on the Camino, the real pilgrims (not the silly caricatures that Sheen meets up with) could provide a more than adequate backdrop and numerous other un-contrived events could have been explored.
However, as the film goes on the Sheen Character becomes more obnoxious. No one in his group seems to have a genuine reason for walking the Camino (and this is not a leisurely meander). The Spanish are shown alternatively as thieves and lunatics and Sheen himself (an American) is shown as an arrogant grumpy fool – that is when he is not drunk!
The author character, played by James Nessbit, is probably the most ridiculous pilgrim, but then again the other main character appears to be a Dutch drug dealer, so no individual (or nation) comes out of this with any credibility and there is no humour either.
Ultimately this is just a very bad movie that could have been a pretty descent movie, at least for those with an interest in the subject matter. The cover of the DVD describes it as "a soulful and cinematic journey", but in my opinion it is anything but. As is so often the case, when a movie dies or is not adequately supported by the studio there is normally a reason and "The way" is no exception.