Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
The Way is the latest in a new sub-genre category of movie making… films about faith. Generally these are very low-budget projects made by indie filmmakers working with or for a particular church, with themes that involve firefighters or policemen interacting with the local populace in a positive and uplifting manner. Considering the cost factor, most of them make money, since a lot of the tickets are sold through and to church members, which pretty much guarantees a sizeable audience.
The Way ups the ante, in that it has name players, a much larger budget, location filming in Europe, and a director with a modicum of experience. Martin Sheen stars, and is executive producer under his given name Ramon Estevez. His son Emilio Estevez is credited with being the writer, producer, and director. Suffice to say, son-brother Charlie Sheen is not involved.
Martin Sheen plays an ophthalmologist in California whose wife has died, and is estranged from his only son. I don’t have to tell you that Emilio Estevez, who wears his fourth hat on this production, plays the son. The son is determined to find himself by going alone to other parts of the world in search of whatever it is he feels he is missing. While attempting to walk the 800 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees into Spain, he is killed in an accident. You can likely write the rest of the story at this point: dad goes to France to make arrangement, and decides to complete the pilgrimage because that’s what his son wanted.
The film is obviously a labor of love for both Sheen and Estevez. The production values are worthy, and some spectacular scenery is photographed along The Way. Unfortunately, the characters, especially those encountered on the pilgrimage, are superficial, and in some instances downright uninteresting. Estevez is seen in flashback, so we can have interaction between father and son. And at two hours plus, the tale plods along to its conclusion.
We know that Martin Sheen is capable of delivering an Oscar-worthy performance… for example Terrence Malick’s Badlands in which he starred with Sissy Spacek. We know that Emilio Estevez is capable of, at the very least, an interesting performance as in Alex Cox’s Repo Man, and that his limited directorial credit include a cable movie biopic about the notorious Mitchell Brothers, who were San Francisco’s kings of porn for several years. Unfortunately, the problem with The Way is that it seems to be smothered by its familial involvement, and reaching for being over-earnest. The rambling script, the cookie-cutter characters, and the slack pacing all combine to make this a film that is hard to recommend as worthy of the price of an adult ticket in a movie theatre. If you want to see it, DVD should suffice, and no doubt it will turn up on various cable channels. But for a night out at the movies, no matter what your cinematic interests, you can do better
The PG-13 rated The Way is now showing at Clifton’s Esquire Theatre and the AMC at Newport on the Levee.