worth tak­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

Di­rec­tor: Emilio Estevez ( Bobby) Stars: Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Deb­o­rah Kara Unger, James Nes­bitt, Yorick van Wa­genin­gen

Path the point of a slow re­turn

‘‘ DON’T judge this,’’ a son pleads to his fa­ther dur­ing a scene in The Way. ‘‘ And don’t judge me.’’

The same sen­ti­ments could and should be ap­plied to The Way as a whole.

This is a movie that bravely wears a pu­rity of heart out on its sleeve for all to see.

Se­rial cyn­ics just won’t be able to re­sist The Way’s open in­vi­ta­tion to ridicule. Fair enough. And more fool them, I say.

For those pre­pared to fol­low where The Way wishes to wan­der, how­ever, the jour­ney will be one well worth tak­ing.

In his finest screen per­for­mance in many years, Martin Sheen plays Tom, a level- headed and con­ser­va­tive Cal­i­for­nian doc­tor forced to drop ev­ery­thing when he is told his itin­er­ant son has died while hik­ing over­seas.

The late Daniel – played in a hand­ful of flash­backs by Emilio Estevez, Sheen’s own son who also wrote and di­rected the picture – could not have been more dif­fer­ent from his fa­ther.

So when Tom ar­rives on the Span­ish side of the Pyre­nees moun­tains to re­claim his son’s body, it is hard not to dis­cern a busi­ness- like air to his grief.

But af­ter tak­ing a look at Daniel’s jour­nals and the pho­tos stored on his cam­era, Tom’s stoic stance be­gins to grad­u­ally re­cede.

In homage to his dead son, Tom de­cides to com­plete Daniel’s in­tended jour­ney – a walk­ing trek along the fa­mous Camino de San­ti­ago, a pil­grims’ path­way link­ing Spain to France.

At sig­nif­i­cant mile­posts en route, Tom dis­creetly sprin­kles a hand­ful of Daniel’s ashes.

So far, so mawk­ish, huh? Again, don’t judge. The Way re­ally hits its stride once it locks in on chart­ing Tom’s emo­tional reawak­en­ing.

The feel­ing that Tom is emerg­ing from a pro­tec­tive shell of his own mak­ing is care­fully nur­tured by Estevez from be­hind the cam­era. Few false notes are hit as this process is worked through.

What keeps you be­liev­ing is not only the un­fail­ingly cred­i­ble act­ing of Sheen but also the com­fort­able and un­forced man­ner in which Tom in­ter­acts with fel­low trav­ellers on his jour­ney.

Gen­uine screen rap­port is an elu­sive com­mod­ity at the best of times, but The Way is blessed with an abun­dance of the stuff.

Though Tom shares lit­tle in com­mon with the likes of a burly, party- hard­ened Dutch­man ( Yorick van Wa­genin­gen), an acid- tongued Cana­dian ( Deb­o­rah Kara Unger) or an overly up­beat Ir­ish­man ( James Nes­bitt), the shared ex­pe­ri­ences are eas­ily un­der­stood and hard to re­sist.

STOIC: Martin Sheen plays a fa­ther who heads over­seas to re­cover his dead son’s body.

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