Thursday, February 23, 2012

"The Way" Review and DVD giveaway

There hasn't been a good Lenten movie since "The Passion of the Christ". "The Way" directed and  produced by Emilio Estevez, starring his father Martin Sheen, is a fascinating film which, though not as overtly Catholic as "The Passion" nevertheless explores themes of spiritual healing and the universal longing for a connection with God. This could be a good film to share with that relative who is "spiritual but not religious" who balks at films as overtly religious as "The Passion."

Maritin Sheen plays Tom, an opthamologist with an ostensibly comfortable life in California, he has a good practice, and a regular foursome at the local golf course, yet he seems distanced from it all. A recent widow with a rocky relationship with his only child, Daniel, played by Emilio Estevez, Tom's  life is not all contentment. A man who has achieved success by choosing his life's course early and keeping on track, Tom's son rejects the same course of action, saying, "You don't choose your life, you live it".  Daniel suspends his PhD studies in anthropology to experience foreign cultures in person. He ventures to Spain to walk the thousand year old pilgrimage called "El Camino de Santigao" or "the way" to the cathedral of Santiago de Campostelo, where the remains of St James the Apostle are buried in Spain.

Tom is stunned when he receives a long distance call from a policeman in France saying that Daniel was found dead at the start of the Camino in the French Pyrenees, puts his life on hold and takes the next plane to Europe. The story follows Tom in his quest to complete Daniel's pilgrimage, distributing his ashes along the route. A fascinating mix of characters engage Tom, who at first reluctant to share his purpose, later embraces the companionship on El Camino. Stunning scenery, interesting characters,  and surprising plot twists keep the story from blandness, and the ending is unusually thought provoking for a Hollywood film.
Adult themes are explored, and a surprising pro-life theme is touched upon, so this may be a good film to open up discussions in youth groups. Characters are well developed and believable, and follow the typical mix of travelers one encounters while backpacking in Europe. Emilio is still exploring his religious beliefs, a fact which he shared with me in his interview.
 I grew up in a house, where, as a boy, we lived in New York City for six years, my mother was raised Southern Baptist, and my father was a devout Catholic. And, as a boy, I heard nothing but arguments about religion, and it was very, very confusing to me, and, as a result it left a very distasteful feeling for me. Where I finally ended up, is that all of the children were Baptized, but we were not practicing Catholics, in fact, my father fell away from the Church for quite some time, and then came back in 1981, there was a reconversion. So, for me, this has been a long journey, my mother likes to call me a work in progress. And I am that, and I think the film is a reflection of my spiritual journey. Its often said that the proof is in the pudding, but I like to say that its in the eating of the pudding. And if you’ve seen the film then its pretty clear where I’m at in my spiritual path.
The only feature of this film which may offend some viewers is the manner in which Tom distributes the ashes of his son's remains, since it is against Catholic teaching not to bury them in consecrated soil and there was no funeral. It is highly recommended as an engaging, yet meditative film for adolescents and up.

To win a copy of "The Way" leave your name in the comm box with your email.


Bekah said...

I've been wanting to see this!

Bekah Sealey
bekahs77 (at) gmail (dot) com

Kristy Z. said...

I would LOVE to see this film!


kristykziegler (at) hotmail (dot) com

Thadeus said...

I have heard a little about this film, but after your review I would really like to see it.


Kell Brigan said...

Yes, learn about the Camino, but AVOID this movie. Kids, especially girls, should NOT see this movie. Unger is dangerously underweight, yet her anorexia is never mentioned in the movie. At times, you can see her entire pelvic shelf through her sweater — the woman is STARVED. (The fat guy, though, is subjected to body comments throughout the film.) Apparently these Hollywood people think a starved woman is somehow normal. (And, yet, Martin Sheen recently did an "In Focus" episode on eating disorders. Pardon me while my head explodes...) This movie is very, very dangerous for kids. Give it a miss.