Monday, January 29, 2018

"The Way" to a Great Movie

My husband and I unwind at the end of each day with a glass of wine and half a movie, finishing it the next evening.  Our cinematic preferences encompass a wide range of genres from the latest blockbuster to the small-budget independent films. It is often the small-budget films that stay with us the longest. These movies are story driven with characters and dialogue that require thoughtful consideration.  The Way, written by Emilio Estevez and starring his father Martin Sheen, is precisely that kind of movie.

The premise, as described by IMDB, is simple and poignant: “A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.” The father [Tom] travels with his son Daniel’s ashes. It is a deeply moving movie interspersed with thoughtful dialogue and generously sprinkled comedic moments.  

Along the way, the lapsed Catholic Tom unwillingly acquires traveling companions Dutchman Joost, Canadian Sarah, and Irishman Jack. This unlikely foursome travel the El camino de Santiago, hurting and helping to heal one another along the way. Martin Sheen said of the movie, "Pilgrimage is structured so it takes you out of your comfort zone. You pack all the things you need and soon you realize it's too heavy and have to start unpacking. Then the transcendence starts on stuff you've packed in your interior life, and you begin opening those closets and cells and dungeons and letting all the people out you've been punishing all your life."

I’m a Protestant and was unfamiliar with this pilgrimage. I’m a conservative and thought I’d have little use for a movie written by the more liberal Estevez or his father. However, the movie presented to me an ecumenical window into the larger Christian community. Activist Sheen and I are diametrically opposed on most political issues, but we share an opposition to abortion and reverence for life. Politics aside, because of this movie I now see these men as fellow believers.

We return to The Way time and time again because the story is moving, the relationships real, and the community welcoming. It speaks of healing, forgiveness, acceptance, and love.