Apocalypse Sheen: The Sheen clan and The Way to redemption
by Craig McLean, April 3 2011
Read the entire article at Independent Woman
Martin Sheen, now 70, and Emilio Estevez, a 48-year-old actor-turned-director, have collaborated on another film odyssey on foreign soil, though this time it has been a more enjoyable experience. The Way is about an uptight father, Tom (played by Sheen), trying to reconnect with his restless son, Daniel (Estevez, who also wrote and directed the film). The younger man, a loner and inveterate backpacker (in his father's eyes a slacker), dies in a storm while trying to walk the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage across the Pyrenees in northern Spain.
Tom, a dentist who had waved off Daniel with pointed misgivings about what his son was doing with his life, travels from America to collect the body. Once in Spain, he decides to honour Daniel's memory by completing the 500-mile trek himself, with Daniel's ashes in his backpack. Along the way, he is joined by three ad-hoc travelling companions, all also looking for meaning or fulfilment in their lives: a troubled Canadian woman, an overweight Dutch stoner and a frustrated Irish writer (played by James Nesbitt). And he is forced to look deeply at his own character, his outlook and his lack of faith -- all fuelled by visions of his dead son.
Sheen, who is still married to Templeton, has been sober for 20 years and is now a devout Catholic, having had his faith restored by a series of meaningful conversations in Paris in 1981 with Terrence Malick, the director of Sheen's breakthrough film, Badlands (1973). For Sheen, making The Way has been particularly gratifying. "The whole journey is about showing our brokenness," he says. "It's about opening up and being human. And that's what spirituality really is. It's humanity." . . .
Beautifully and elegantly shot, The Way is a straightforward and moving tale of the bond between father and son, a reconciliation between the generations. In this case, it doesn't occur on the mortal plane -- the bereaved father, closed off emotionally, experiences a gentle conversion to his late son's free-spirited approach to life. But given the firmly Roman Catholic context, the film wears its religiosity relatively lightly. Sheen is happy to view Estevez's film as more "pro-life" than pro-Catholic. "Tom is not a practising Catholic, but by the end of the film he has become a believer," Sheen says. "His faith becomes personal. And that's the most important thing about anyone's faith: it has to be personal. If it's impersonal, why bother? It's useless."
Sheen brushes away any suggestion that he might have tried to convert his son during the shoot. "No. If you're going to proselytise, you have to do it with your actions, with your life. I adore Emilio. And God's presence is very powerful in him. He may think of it otherwise, but I see God's presence in his humanity and his joy."
Opens UK May 13, USA Sep 30