Remember Coach Gordon Bombay? Well, when he’d finished coaching the Mighty Ducks, been fired as a lawyer and shacked up with Charlie’s mum he changed his name to Emilio Estevez and decided to make movies. Interestingly, it turns out he’s related to Martin Sheen who stars in his new movie The Way, a story of a man travels to France to bring back the body of his son, but ends up finishing the journey his son started.
Emilio, aka Daniel, quit his doctorate to go and see the world, much to the disapproval of his father Tom (Martin Sheen). But when he attempt to walk El camino de Santiago (The way of St James) he dies and his father flies out to France in order to bring him back for burial.
Tom, understandably, is having a hard time coming to terms with things, and but in his grief makes a snap decision to walk El camino de Santiago with his son’s ashes. Along the way he comes into contact with a few characters that join him along the way: Joost the friendly, motor mouth Dutchman who is on the walk in an attempt to lose weight, Sarah, a damaged woman who claims she is trying to quit smoking and Jack, an Irish writer who is trying to rid himself of a case of writer’s block.
These characters do sometimes feel a bit clichéd, (see James Nesbitt’s introductory speech which is, frankly, cringe-worthy) but it is through their interaction with Tom that the film grows, and becomes about the difficult friendships between the group as well as the larger theme of people looking for something in life. The whole film centres around Tom’s journey and the characters he meets along the way are all searching for different things in true Wizard Of Oz style. Not only that but the journey scenes are punctuated by the stops the party makes, with each one providing more information on the party and showing how they bond with each other despite their differences.
Whatever problems there are with the story, the movie is a throwback to the times when filmmakers saw story as important. Remember those days? Because Mr Snyder and Mr Bay don’t seem to. The Way is a simple film with more than a bit of self indulgence but that doesn’t stop it from being an occasionally touching, sometimes funny story that manages to hold your attention despite being well over 2 hours long. Plus, all the characters seem to have achieved at least some kind of triumph over adversity by the end – just like in The Mighty Ducks.