UPDATE - The winners of the drawing for the free DVDs are:
- Corey Dossey
- Mary Jo Schuette
- Ryan Moore
As many regular readers know, I am very critical of feelgood Christian movies that have little artistic merit (bad acting, writing, etc) and are overly pious in how they present faith. I feel Christians settle too often for a lower form of cinematic art. While many of the movies that are made by Christians for Christians are done on small budgets, that still doesn't mean you have to settle for poor acting, poor directing, poor production value, etc. You can make a good art with a small budget. Also, for it to be truly artistic it ought to speak to the common man, not just the church-going Christian who is going to see it just for the "message".
"The Way", a movie by Emilio Estevez, achieves the goal of making a good movie, with a good message, that will appeal to a broad audience, all surrounded by a Christian worldview.
Martin Sheen stars as Tom, a widowed dentist who is very comfortable in his country club lifestyle. He learns that his son (played by Estevez) has died in France just as he began a pilgrimage on the historical Camino de Compostela - The Way of St. James - a long trek over the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, the burial place of the Apostle - St. James. Once in France Tom decides to finish the pilgrimage for his son while carrying his son's ashes with him.
Tom soon learns he is not alone in his journey and is accompanied by a rag-tag group of pilgrims who join him in his adventure. He also discovers that the time outside of his comfort zone is a time of change for himself and not just about finishing the journey for his son.
Without giving away too much, there is a subtle transformation in each pilgrim's life. But, unlike most modern "christian" movies, conversion isn't full or immediate. When most people have a conversion, it doesn't necessarily make great movie endings and this is where "The Way" shines. It gives a great message without preaching to the audience. The tagline for the movie is perfect - "You don't choose a life, you live one."
Still, the movie isn't perfect. It is slow in parts and several scenes seem to have been a bit underdeveloped. But, aside from these faults, the movie achieves it's purpose - to show that a messy life can still be transformed by the power of God in unexpected circumstances and even pain and suffering.
Along with this review, I am giving away 3 copies of the DVD of "The Way", (officially released today) which were made available to me. To be eligible to win a DVD, please put your real name in the comments below. On Friday, 2/24/12, (at 12 Noon) I will draw 3 random winners (using a random number generator) and post the winners names. Once I get addresses for the winners I will send each person one of the DVDs free of charge.