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Way, The (Blu-ray Review)

21 Mar, 2012 By: John Latchem

Box Office $4.43 million
$26.99 DVD, $32.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen, James Nesbitt, Tcheky Karyo, Emilio Estevez.

Not many films could be categorized as a true family affair, but I think The Way qualifies for the description.

This beautiful film was written and directed by Emilio Estevez, stars his father, Martin Sheen, and was inspired by a journey undertaken by his son, Taylor, to complete the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, a 500-mile hike across northern Spain, from the French border through the Pyrenees to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the reported resting place of the remains of the apostle St. James. For this reason the route has been dubbed The Way of St. James, which lends the film its title.

The stories depicted within the film are based in part on a book about the Way by Jack Hitt. Sheen plays an American doctor named Thomas Avery who learns his son, Daniel (played by Estevez in flashbacks), was killed in a storm shortly after beginning the trek to Santiago. Having lost touch with his son in recent years, Thomas decides to honor Daniel’s memory by embarking on the trail with his ashes in tow.

The Way is structured like a Wizard of Oz for the spiritual set, with Thomas taking a trip down a real-life “yellow brick road,” meeting new friends and encountering challenges as he finds them.

The production is the culmination of an effort by Sheen, Estevez and their family to reconnect with their ancestral roots, as Martin’s father, Francisco, was from Galicia (his mother was from Ireland). Other members of the family contributed in front of and behind the camera, but with such a strong penitence motif as this film has, don’t be surprised that Charlie is nowhere to be seen. Martin and Emilio actually co-authored a book — called Along the Way and plugged on the Blu-ray — to reflect on their journey.

The disc also includes three short featurettes (about two minutes each) that touch upon the making and marketing of the film, including a look at the bus tour used to promote the film in America. Missing is any standalone documentary about the Camino de Santiago, which would have been a welcome addition.

On the other hand, the excellent commentary by Martin, Emilio and producer David Alexanian provides a much more detailed behind-the-scenes account of what turned out to be a very heartfelt, personal film for all involved.

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