Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez made a great movie in ‘The Way’

September 14, 2011

SpiritBlog

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Catholics won’t want to miss this very spiritual film

Martin Sheen fans will have yet another reason to value this actor who happens to be Catholic when they see “The Way.”

The premier is set for Oct. 7 in New York City — ironically — because Emilio Estevez, the writer/director, is quick to say that the movie is for people who live between Manhattan and Glendale, California. He said that, as he pitched this movie about a pilgrimage to movie industry execs in both New York and Hollywood, he could see their eyes glaze over. They’re not interested in making movies for thinking people, preferring films with nudity and things blowing up.

“They call this fly-over country,” Estevez said during a promotional stop in the Twin Cities. “I call it the United States.”

“The Way” is terrific, a great story superbly told and acted, with great scenery, with touching drama, with verbal and visual humor, with clever casting, with crisp, believable, thought-provoking dialogue, perfect soundtrack, characters you want to know better — the whole enchilada of what makes a satisfying evening before the big screen. Catch the trailer.

Here’s the gist of it: Sheen plays a curmudgeon of a California country club ophthalmologist who doesn’t approve of his adult son going off to see the world. There’s a poignant scene at the start when Sheen is driving his son to the airport and Sheen’s character, Tom Avery, is defending the life he’s chosen. Son Daniel, played by Estevez (Sheen’s real-life son), responds, “You don’t choose a life, dad. You live it.” That’s what this movie is about, although of course it’s much more complex and fulfilling than that.

The way of the film’s title is the Camino de Santiago, the thousand-year-old pilgrimage route from southern France through the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Blessings are said to come to those who complete the journey to where tradition holds the remains of the Apostle James (Santiago in Spanish) are preserved in the Cathedral of Santiago. Daniel Avery sets out to walk the 480 miles but dies in a storm shortly after starting. When father Tom comes to claim his body, he decides to complete the journey his estranged son started.

Journey as metaphor

What Tom Avery learns along the way about himself and the difference between a life you choose and a life you live, makes for great movie watching. The reasons one walks the Camino — as played out by a wonderful cast — have a lot to say to everyone about our own journey through life and the approach we take on our journey: Do we walk it alone or do we jump in with others and accept both the rich rewards and the potential hurts?

Along with “The Help,” this new Sheen-Estevez vehicle could help Hollywood see that people are tired of the crap, to use Estevez’ word, that is on today’s movie screens. That there was something religious and spiritual about the movie he was pitching scared away agents and producers alike.

The reaction “The Way” is receiving as Sheen and Estevez make a 35-city bus tour to screen the movie before live audiences is telling them — and hopefully film executives — that this type of movie plays well to the majority of the country who don’t sit in filmdom’s isolated offices on the East or West Coast.

“The Way” will be in theaters around North America October 7. You won’t want to miss it.

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

View all posts by Bob Zyskowski
  • Becky

    Well said, Bob. It is a wonderful, delightful, good movie. Cannot wait to see it again.