The Way is an emotionally charged drama directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his real-life father Martin Sheen. The film screened on September 19th at the Dayton Art Institute. Prior to the screening, the Dayton Art Institute held a meet and greet with Dayton native Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez in attendance. The beautifully arranged affair was littered with fellow influential members of Dayton including Mayor Gary Leitzell and FilmDayton Board President Ron Rollins.
The film stars Martin Sheen as Tom, an American doctor who travels to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, Daniel played by director Emilio Estevez, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. Distraught with sadness over losing his son, Tom embarks on the historical pilgrimage known as The Way of Saint James. Armed with his son’s backpack containing his ashes and guidebook, Tom navigates the pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees, to Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain. Tom soon discovers three other pilgrims along the way: an overweight Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) a Canadian feminist (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) who is experiencing an extended term of writer’s block who join him on his spiritual journey of discovering a greater meaning in their lives. Over the course of their trek, these unlikely emotional misfits create an eternal bond and Tom discovers the difference between “The life we live and the life we choose”. The Way was filmed on location in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago.
Estevez is employing the use of a grass roots release campaign indicative of 70’s cinema by traveling around the country and screening the film before its release for wide audiences in Dayton at The Neon movie theater beginning on Oct. 21st, 2011. Along “The Way”, the film has garnered a Best Screenplay nomination at the Cinema Writers Circle Awards in Spain.
Despite still being in the screening process, The Way has already received extremely positive critical acclaim with the film currently holding an 87% on Rottentomatoes.com. According to Empire Magazine, The Way is “Gentle, likable and profoundly touching, it makes you want to dig out the hiking boots and make the same journey”. The Birmingham Post also rave that The Way is “A lovely, inspirational film which fuses the Irish/Spanish roots of the Estévez family into a Wizard of Oz-style story about how wearing out your soles can help to heal your soul.
After the film finished screening, The Way’s star and director/co-star, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez participated in a Q&A session moderated by Wright State University Theatre Professor Stuart McDowell. Commenting on the origins of Martin Sheen’s character one audience member asked Estevez, “What made you begin the film in Ventura, California?” Estevez explained he used small town America to create “isolation” within Sheen’s character Tom to make his realm of existence extend no further than the “doctor’s office and the country club”.
Estevez also managed to offer some fun facts about the shooting of the film noting that over the course of shooting, the principal actors actually about hiked “half of the 800 km trek”. Before the Q&A concluded, Estevez introduced further interpretation for the motivations of the lead character’s referring to their dynamic as an “emotional tornado modeled after The Wizard of OZ”.
Estevez and Sheen received a well deserved standing ovation before and after the Q&A session.