When the free-spirited, world-traveling son of a risk-averse California eye doctor dies in a storm on the first night of his 800-kilometer trek along Spain’s Camino de Santiago, the father comes to Europe to retrieve his ashes. Once there, he impulsively takes up his son’s backpack and guidebook and embarks on the walk himself in an effort to get a handle on what made his son tick. During the trek, as will happen, he falls in with a trio of fellow pilgrims: an overweight Dutchman, a chain-smoking Canadian, and a blocked Irish writer (Yorick van Wageningen, Deborah Kara Unger and James Newbitt), each with his or her own reason for making the journey. This film, written and directed by Emilio Estevez (the son in flashbacks) and starring his dad Martin Sheen (excellent), is a hard one to categorize. It wanders a bit, yes, but isn’t that kind of appropriate? It has a spiritual side, but that’s not pushed. It’s contemplative, amiable and modest, has dignity and sincerity, and it’s gorgeously filmed and culturally interesting to boot. At the end, I felt like I had been along on a great journey, and I felt like going hiking.
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