I had the opportunity to see an early screening of a movie last night, and the director, writer, and star were in attendance afterward to answer questions and to talk a little bit about the film and the experiences they shared.
The film is The Way, about a grieving father walking el Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known as The Way of St. James, as a way to honor his deceased son who died on the first day of his journey on el Camino. Pilgrims have been walking the Camino for over one thousand years. It is an intensely spiritual journey for many, and though Tom attempts to keep to himself, he meets wonderful characters along the way and learns to open up and share his once closed-off life with others.
Tom Avery (Martin Sheen), an opthamologist from California, lives a "bubble life." His estranged son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), has abandoned his doctoral studies and has decided to see the world. Estranged from each other since the death of Tom's wife/Daniel's mother, Tom wonders if he'll ever be able to bridge the gap between them.
"It is the life I chose," Tom tells his son, Daniel, in a flashback. Daniel replies, "You don't choose a life, Dad. You live one."
On el Camino, Tom learns how to live his life once again, outside of his comfortable California bubble.
The Way is an intensely intimate look at a man discovering life for the first time, exploring a part of the world he never planned on seeing, and coming to terms with the relationship he once had with his son. It's beautiful and thought-provoking, the acting is superb, and while the storyline is a little predictable, it takes nothing away from the meaning of the film.
After the film, Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and the Producer, David Alexanian, came on stage to answer questions about the film. People gave nothing but praise, and I was surprised to see over 50 people stand up when asked how many in the audience had walked el Camino.
There was even a group of nuns in the audience, who presented Mr. Sheen with a rosary. It was really something.