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The Way (I) (2010)

PG-13  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Drama  |  19 November 2010 (Spain)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 20,509 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 119 user | 123 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

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.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Romy Baskerville ...
William Holden ...
Joe Torrenueva ...
Father Sandoval
Stéphane Dausse ...
French Mortician
Angelica (as Angela Molina)


"The Way" is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends and the challenges we face while navigating this ever-changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son (played by Emilio Estevez), killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage to honor his son's desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn't plan on is the profound impact the journey will have on him and his "California Bubble Life". Inexperienced as a trekker, Tom soon discovers that he will not be alone on this journey. On his journey, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, each with their own issues and looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen), a Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt), who is ... Written by The Way

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life is too big to walk it alone.


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

19 November 2010 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

El camino  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£104,397 (UK) (13 May 2011)


$4,430,650 (USA) (9 March 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Captain Sebastian (the French police captain) refers to the Way of Saint James by its Spanish name "Camino de Santiago". As a Frenchman, he probably would not have called the route by that name. In French, the Way of Saint James is "Le Chemin de Saint Jacques." Since we are told his character made the pilgrimage a few times, it is possible that he might use the Spanish name. See more »


On the first Day of Camino we see Tom pass the statue of the Virgin in close proximity. In fact the statue is 100m left of the route so the shot is clearly done for visual effect. It would be impossible for him to come from that direction as there are sheer cliffs there. See more »


Sarah: Doesn't this guy ever stop to smell the flowers?
See more »


Coro El Encuentro Burgos
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Martin Sheen walks 500 miles in northern Spain and it is a pleasure to watch every single one
20 October 2011 | by (Rockville, MD) – See all my reviews

Everyone has their own, personal reason for choosing to walk the real 500 mile Camino de Santiago. This is a trail which begins in France, winds its way through the French Pyrenees, across northern Spain's Basque region, and ends in Galicia at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Legend says St. James is buried here. Every year, thousands of 'pilgrims' make this arduous trek which can take months to accomplish. However, don't let the word pilgrim fool you; many people undertake this quest for non-religious reasons.

In fact, four such folk are the main characters in The Way. Tom (Martin Sheen) is a native Californian eye doctor who spends as much time on the links as he does at the office. He receives an unexpected phone call from a French policeman informing him his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) died in southern France in a major storm. Tom flies out to France to collect his body and learns about the pilgrimage Daniel was just starting out on.

Tom and Daniel did not have the best parting one would like to have the last time you are going to see your son. Tom thought Daniel was wasting his life on these silly adventures while Daniel responded with the platitude, "You don't choose your life, you experience it." In a moment of remorse and homage, Tom decides to walk the 500 miles for Daniel with his cremated remains spreading his ashes along the way.

Quickly, he is joined by fellow pilgrims each with their own reasons for taking a few months out of their lives to backpack across Spain. There is the Dutchman Joost (Yorick van Wageningen) who is walking the trail to lose weight for his brother's wedding. Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger) is a chain smoking Canadian who vows to drop the habit once she reaches the cathedral and Jack (James Nesbitt) is an Irishman convinced the trail will finally crack his writer's block. Initially, Tom does not particularly want their company because he is suffering from some severe guilt and remorse about Daniel. This leads to the film's low point of a drunken rage against pilgrims and his walking mates. Fortunately, once this ridiculous and needless scene is over, the rest of The Way is a very enjoyable movie to watch.

The Way was shot with only available light, sunlight during the day and candles and fire at night which lends it a great deal of authenticity. Other than the main characters, everyone else on screen are actual pilgrims walking the trail to the cathedral. There is a scene later on with real Roma (Gypsies). Since the Camino de Santiago means a great deal to many people, especially those in northern Spain, you can really see how writer/director Emilio Estevez took his time to do this right.

It is refreshing to see Emilio pop his head up once again for some work. I last saw him when he directed 2006's Bobby and since then it appears he has only directed a couple episodes of Numb3rs. Perhaps he is always waiting for some real inspiration to use as his next project. He mentioned The Way came about from his father and his son's experience on the trail. I wonder if the character Jack is a model for Emilio since the first draft of this screenplay took six months to write. Furthermore, it is about time Martin Sheen showed up in a good movie again. Recently, he has had some bit parts in throw away movies such as Love Happens and Imagine That and hasn't truly had quality work since The Departed.

The Way won't win any awards; however, it is so positive and perhaps intentionally persuasive that I bet every person in the audience thought about how they could find a few months to take off and hike that distance. I had no idea that such a place as the Camino de Santiago existed before watching The Way which I suspect is a big reason why Emilio Estevez took the time to write and direct this film. He wants the rest of us to know about it as well.

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