Film Review: The Way

Got some downtime? Check out our top-rated outdoor films to inspire your next adventure. This film review is for The Way by Emilio Estevez.

The Way wasn’t an international block-buster when it was released in 2010 but it does have a great cast and is a must-see for anyone who loves Long Distance Walks or Spanish Travel.

Hikers on the Camino  de Santiago pilgrimage route

What’s the story?

Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) is a widowed Californian optometrist who gets a phone call about his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez). On the first day of his Camino de Santiago pilgrimage Daniel is killed in a storm in the Pyrenees. Tom Avery goes to collect his son’s body from the start of the Camino de Santiago but decides to take his son’s ashes on a final journey. What follows is a powerful and inspirational story of Tom’s trek along the renowned pilgrim route.

What’s It Based On?

The story was developed by Martin Sheen, his son Emilio Estevez (who directed the film) and his son Taylor, who traveled the pilgrimage route in 2003. Parts of the story and the backdrop are also based on Jack Hitt’s Off The Road novel.

It’s not based on real life events although there are a lot of moments that all long distance walkers will recognise and enough vistas over the Basque Country that you’ll want to grab your boots and go!

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

What Will You Uncover En-Route?

Tom’s journey begins in St Jean Pie de Port in Southern France. This is the traditional start point for the pilgrimage and takes hikers through the Pyrenees. It’s not the official start point though, there are actually 8 different routes. Similarly, the characters Tom meets are each on their own journey, with their own starting points and motivations for the trip.

After his first heart-broken and unintended steps along the road Tom meets the Joost – a Dutch pilgrim who’s looking to loose weight and Sarah – a cynical Canadian. Shortly after the unlikely group meet Jack (James Nesbitt) – an arrogant Irish author looking to cure his writer’s block.

The newly formed troop tentatively explore each other’s pasts and reasons for taking the hike. As the hundreds of miles (500) roll away under their feet, their profound and heart-felt stories come to life. Tom also comes to see that his own story can be changed, as the memory of Daniel guides him through the ups and downs of the pilgrimage.

Momentos  left by pilgrims

Why Did We Like It?

Long Distance Walking is as much about the people you do it with and the people you meet as it is about the views. It’s one of the only times in life where you come into contact with people, learn everything about them and then your trip together is over. The Way completely captures that feeling – it’s intense, bitter-sweet and incredibly rewarding. It also acknowledges the effort it takes to overcome annoyances and pet peeves but how fulfilling it can be to make that effort.

It made us want to walk the Camino de Santiago even more. A month long hike through the beautiful basque country, who wouldn’t want to do that? But the camera work in the film capture the regions contrast between harsh elements and elegant valleys.

There are also other minor details that long distance enthusiasts will notice including the difference a good host can make to your overnight stay; an appreciation of a luxury hotel room after a rough camp-out and the provision of good toilet facilities.

If you want to be inspired to take a trip, The Way is a great film to get you Outdoors.