the way – the movie

“You don’t choose a life, Dad. You live it.”

The highlight of this past Oscar weekend, was watching a non-Oscar movie. But what a winner it is!

I’ve been waiting and waiting to see The Way for about a year. I read about it when it was still in production. I read reviews when it finally opened in the USA and then in Canada. But, it never made it to our rural theatres. What a shame! We all need a break from the ongoing conveyor-belt of Hollywood block-buster, shoot-em-up shock-fests. Yet these are the movies that garner theatre releases and fill the rental -shelves a few months later. So, I was thrilled to see The Way offered on Apple TV. Hubby and I watched it on Saturday, and again on Sunday. It’s just one of those movies.

The Way is written and directed by Emilio Estevez. It stars Martin Sheen as Tom, an ophthalmologist who receives news that his son died on the first day of the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage. He flies to France to pick up his son’s remains and has the inspiration to walk the Camino himself, spreading his son’s ashes along the way.

The story is simple, but powerful. The friends Tom (unwillingly) picks up on the way reflect the classic, rag-tag of characters found in most pilgrim stories. Their reasons for walking the Camino are as diverse as they. Joost, from Amsterdam, is hoping to lose weight and win back the affection of his wife. Sarah, the Canadian, wants to quit smoking. Jack, the Irish scribe, is battling his writer’s block demon.

The cinematography is stunning. The many minutes devoted to the actual walk draw you into the experience. You imagine yourself walking the Camino. You wish you were walking the Camino. (New bucket list item?!)

The evening scenes were wonderful vignettes of Spanish late night table socializing; eating, drinking, and singing into the wee hours. It is no place for a quiet introvert!

The Way is a movie that draws you into deeper thought. As with any good piece of writing, art, or drama, it opens itself to layers of interpretation. My own take-away was the realization, yet again, that our personal efforts at self-discipline aren’t as important as the relationships around us. This is a good lesson for Lent. I remember hearing once that we are all, at one time or another, the walking wounded. And, we are not meant to walk alone. We need companions on the journey. We need to be companions on the journey. And, our loving God certainly has a sense of humour when it comes to matching us up!

If you are looking for a good Lenten meditation, I highly recommend The Way. Watching a movie may not be penance. But, we can all use a little inspiration on our Lent journey. Buen Camino!

(Click here for the movie trailer.)