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The-Way-Emilio-Estevez-and-Martin-Sheen-3“The Way” is a way better movie than you would imagine from a director who was once a Brat Packer whose most famous character admitted to taping “Larry Lester’s buns together” in “The Breakfast Club.” It’s also a family affair with Emilio Estevez directing his father Martin Sheen in the lead role.

Sheen plays Tom, a complacent optometrist whose adult son (Estevez) is killed in a freak accident while walking El camino de Santiago from France to Spain. After collecting his son’s ashes in France Tom decides to continue his son’s journey and walk the 800 plus km pilgrimage. What begins as a physical trek turns into a spiritual journey as he spreads his son’s ashes and forms a small family of fellow travelers (Yorick van Wageningen, Deborah Kara Unger and James Nesbitt) before reaching his goal of seeing the burial site of the remains of the apostle Saint James at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.

“The Way” is a road movie. Not the Bob and Bing kind of thing where people burst into song and Dorothy Lamour does the samba, but a movie that really is about the journey and the lessons learned along the way.

Estevez has made a thoughtful film with beautiful scenery, complex characters and just a few too many walking montages. The characters walk and walk, which is fine because mostly they are going somewhere both physically and mentally, but fewer steps might have made for a tighter film.

Estevez allows the story to breath, but sometimes, like the hikers themselves, the story breathes a little too heavily. There aren’t many lighthearted moments here and Sheen brings dignity and gravitas to his role, but clearly several moments meant to tug at the hearty strings fall flat.

“The Way” is a heartfelt and interesting film, that occasionally over reaches but succeeds in telling a life affirming story.

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