Here's how "The Way" unfolds. Sheen's character, California ophthalmologist Tom Avery, is a widower who's been angry at his son's decision to forego a graduate degree to wander the world. While Avery's out on the golf course, a French policeman calls to tell him his son has died in a storm in the Pyrenees.
When Avery arrives to identify the body, the policeman tells him about the "camino," and he resolves to travel the route with his son's cremated remains. On this very long walk, he finds companionship with a burly Dutchman who wants to lose weight, an Irish writer with writer's block, and a bitter Canadian woman trying to quit smoking -- and ultimately rediscovers his lost faith.
The movie is beautiful travelogue of the sites along the route, from mountain vistas to beautiful old cathedrals. It's a great backdrop for a subtle human story. After the Canadian woman cynically suggests Sheen's character is there to march on a self-absorbed, baby-boomer journey to a James Taylor soundtrack, she's embarrassed to learn the truth. Later she admits her own dark troubles. She was a battered wife and is haunted by an abortion she underwent because she didn't want her husband to have two females to brutalize. She says she can hear her daughter's voice.
Estevez explained, "We give voice to the unborn, and again, that is another thing Hollywood doesn't necessarily celebrate." That's putting it mildly.
The pro-life and religious messages in this movie are subtle, and some might find them to be too subtle. There's no aggressive proselytizing for Jesus or Christianity at all, although it wraps up nicely at the amazing cathedral where St. James is said to rest. For the lapsed believer, it could encourage conversation. For the moviegoer who just wants a pleasant movie about life, it's two hours well spent. People who support these Hollywood outcasts should vote with their feet. It's a much shorter walk than the one in the movie.