‘The Way’ beautifully examines living life to its fullest

Nathan Fisher

Looking for a feel-good movie that you could watch with your family over the upcoming holidays and actually tolerate? Check out “The Way,” a movie that examines a band of troubled souls and their journey of self-discovery along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and shows that enjoying life is about the need to stop . . . pause . . . and smell the roses.

“The Way” begins with a phone call to Tom Avery (Martin Sheen), a hard-ass ophthalmologist who doesn’t like making friends, hearing the news that his 40-year-old son has just died in a storm in France at the beginning of his Camino de Santiago trip. Tom’s life is turned upside down as he journeys to France to retrieve the remains of his son and ends up strapping on his son’s backpack (son’s cremated ashes included) to continue the unfinished journey along the 500-mile pilgrimage from France to Spain. Along the way, Tom meets many entertaining fellow sojourners. These acquaintances turn into unwanted followers, who predictably become friends, adding their own bite of humor into the movie. Each trekker hikes for his or her own reason: to quit smoking, to lose weight, to get rid of writer’s block, to hunt for leprechauns or to honor the memory of a son. The movie chronicles each of their self-discoveries.

The film’s premise is nothing extraordinary, but the sheer beauty of the landscape and Sheen’s acting save this movie. Sheen reminds us how he can play any role from the army captain in “Apocalypse Now” to the president in “West Wing” to an old man hiking the 500-mile journey in “The Way.”

“The Way” moves on predictably, and I knew the ending after the first 20 minutes. What makes this movie a worthy find is the heart and soul put into the acting as well as the beautiful scenery spanning from the border of France to the mountains in Spain and into the hill towns of Basque country. “The Way” is a family movie that examines the importance of living your life your own way. Heck, we are all going to die, so why not live life to the fullest?   Needless to say, I have officially added another journey to my bucket list: the trek called El Camino de Santiago. ¡Buen Camino!