Sheen shines as son di­rects

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

and for­mi­da­ble as ever, Martin Sheen stars as a set-in-his-ways South­ern Cal­i­for­nia eye doc­tor called to France to re­claim the body of his grown son, who died in a fall, in The Way. Emilio Estevez, Sheen’s real-life off­spring – and The Way’s writer and di­rec­tor – is that son, a rest­less soul and ev­ery­thing his fa­ther is not. He had been in the Pyre­nees, hik­ing the sto­ried Camino de San­ti­ago – the well-trod pil­grims’ path be­tween France and Spain – when he was trapped in bad weather. Sheen’s Tom is on a golf course in Ven­tura when his mo­bile phone rings. It’s a po­lice­man in south­west France. ‘‘Daniel is dead.’’ A heart­felt project, scrappy and en­gag­ing, The Way has its way with au­di­ences de­spite, not be­cause of, its sen­ti­men­tal ex­cess. Tom ini­tially plans to col­lect Daniel’s be­long­ings and re­turn home. But as he stud­ies his son’s jour­nals, and pho­tos stored in his cam­era, he de­cides to com­plete the trek Daniel started, tak­ing Daniel’s back­pack and the can­is­ter con­tain­ing his ashes. Armed with a guide­book, a map and sor­row in his heart, Tom em­barks on his jour­ney. A Dutch stoner (Yorick van Wa­genin­gen), a sad-eyed, acer­bic Cana­dian (Deb­o­rah Kara Unger) and an Ir­ish travel writer (James Nes­bitt) be­come his trav­el­ling com­pan­ions. This is Estevez’s fifth time di­rect­ing (he’s done a fair bit of TV, too) and he gets won­der­ful stuff out of his dad – in­drawn and brood­ing at first; rag­ing, de­fi­ant and a lit­tle wacky as the jour­ney pro­gresses. The Way is less suc­cess­ful when it comes to the back­sto­ries of Tom’s re­spec­tive side­kicks but the ac­tors find some­thing gen­uine in the ma­te­rial, mak­ing the rap­port among these stranger­sturned-friends feel gen­uine.

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