It's a charming, touching tale of love both onscreen and off, as it gives Emilio Estevez to finally work with his beloved father, the legendary Ramón Estévez. Oh come on, as if Martin Sheen doing a movie with his other big name son isn't enough proof of who's winning this race for daddy's love, he may as well drop the stage name little Carlos adopted. Now, I'd imagine you must have two things on your mind: "They should stick to Martin and Charlie, because that Spanish blood died down too far long ago for them to stick with Ramón and Carlos", and "Okay, maybe that whole "race for daddy's love" comment is going a little overboard." Actually, come to think of it, maybe I am being a little too harsh; I bet Martin loves all of his children equally, because although Charlie is a drunken, abusive, crazy, womanizing, self-righteous pig, he's the only one in the family that's making money now-a-days, so I suppose it kind of evens out. Still, as it stands, this is clearly Martin staying on the safe side, but hey, I'll run with it, just so long as he has an excuse to do some more acting, because the boy knows his stuff. Besides, he has to make up for that performance in "Spawn", so he may as well get started on his 83 years of community servies. Hey, with this film, Sheen seems to be going down the right "path", which isn't to say that he make up for "this" films mistakes.
It's a humble, quiet tale or, in other words, a snoozefest. No, I was surprised to find how rarely dull this film is, but it is still an indie drama at the end of the day, so it at least has to have some slow spots here and there, but speaking of indie drama conventions, slowness is the least of this film's problems. I once heard someone say that Emilio Estevez should be doing some more directing, not because he's great, but because he's clearly inexperienced, as we can tell by some amateur spots where this film hits some heavy conventions, yet, just because some conventions are more intense then others, that doesn't mean that this film doesn't have some kind of cliche on its back, weighing it down. The characters, story, dialogue, themes and - oh lord, especially - soundtrack, in the immortals words of Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies, "It's all been done". Hey, I said "almost" every song after the 80s is terrible; but anyways, this film is an all too conventional one, falling into most every familiar trope that you would expect to see in a film like this, and although that doesn't really damage the film extensively to where it's hard to bear, don't go in expecting something you haven't seen before. Still, it's not like this film makes little effort to play up those conventions, for although this is a film that finds itself lost in a massive pile of films like it, it's still one to standout. There's little that's terribly memorable about this film, but it's by no means forgettable, unless of course you're that one sourpuss that likes to forget about fun, which is something to be found here.
If nothing else, the film is thoroughly charming, and if nothing else makes it that, then the locations do. Now, this isn't the Bahamas or anything, this is just some dirt path, but boy do the French know how to decorate it, leaving every structure or path our characters find themselves stumbling upon to feel dynamic and lush, really making the film feel pretty fun, the aforementioned occasional slow spot notwithstanding. Of course, it shouldn't be too hard to tell what aspect is really keeping this film from crossing over into the dreaded boring zone, and that is, of course, the soundtrack, which is pretty familiar and kind of repetative, but boy is it charming. No, it's the characters that really bring this path to life, for although you know exactly who's who, it's still a surprise when they show up and add versatility to the grand cast, as well as their own unique brand of charisma that gives you that sense of humanity and connection, which is supplemented by some electric chemistry and sense of building comradery. There's not a really upstanding performance, not even from Mr. "All But Broke Acting Ground in 'Apocalypse Now'" himself, but most everyone has their time to shine and they carry those brief but relieving moments well. Still, on the whole, the performers don't do much, but they're not supposed to and are only intended to serve their parts in workmanlike, very human fashions, and in that regard, the performers go above the call of duty. Don't get me wrong, they're not charismatic to the point of feeling as though they're fighting to see who's the most charming, but everyone is spirited and lively, adding his or her own piece to the puzzle to make it tight, charming and ultimately quite rewarding emotionally, and although you may have seen this story told a million times, there aren't a whole lot of retellings that are this effective and memorable.
At the end of the journey, forgettability begins to set in, due to the countless collapses into conventions, or at least that's what would happen to any lesser film of this type, for although this film is a conventional one, it's still very lively, dynamic, emotional and generally quite fun, made so by the nifty locations and across-the-board thoroughly charismatic performances - tied together by equally electric chemistry and comradery that also comes into great play when individual performers actually have a chance to shine on his or her own - that make Estevez's and Son's "The Way" an ultimately deeply rewarding venture.
3/5 - Good