This weekend I saw Emilio Estevez's movie The Way. It's a sweet film, running a little over 2 hours, about a father's journey along the Camino de Santiago carrying the ashes his estranged son (who was killed in an accident at the start of the Camino) and walking along with three companions that attached themselves to him en route. The film was written and directed with the love of a son (Estervez) for his father (Martin Sheen) and this quality shines through. It's a smart, restrained film. It is shot using the simple TV dimensions of widescreen rather than going for full cinemascope, allowing he camera to focus on the human details rather than the landscape. When we first meet the companions they come across as irritating (especially James Nesbitt's character, Jack) but the four subtly develop the transient but intense friendships that pilgrims so often share. I read somewhere that Estervez had the Wizard of Oz in mind when he wrote the screenplay, and this fits well with what we get (thankfully no Munchkins or Wicked Witches or dogs). The Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy, the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City are all there to an extent.
The music suffers slightly from being so popular and familiar (I don't need to buy the soundtrack album as most of the songs are already on my iPod) and the selections are just a tad corny given their context. Perhaps this was intended, juxtaposing American and European sensibilities.
The ending was perfect. I found the film thoughtful and moving, and I warmly recommend it.