Once upon a time in a galaxy about ten miles down the road, I worked for a film festival. I was young and foolish then and had no problems working 72 hours straight hopped up on Chupa Chups, sleeping in the bathtub in the hotel suite that served as the center of command when I had a chance.
After several years of nonsense (and when everyone else moved from lollipops to cocaine) I quit, and from that day to this, I’ve seen maybe a dozen first-run films in the theater.
However, fate and fortune, not to mention being jerked around by the office of the Mexican Consular General for half the day until I nearly cried in two languages, conspired against my anti-filmic ways and I found myself at an art house double-feature. The menu consisted of Pedro Almodovar’s new film “The Skin I Live In” and “The Way” starring Martin Sheen.
The Almodovar flick couldn’t have been more effed up if it came with its own anti-gravity vibrat…personal massager, but “The Way” was touching, gently funny and although I Do Not Cry In Public, something got in my eye several times and it absolutely ruined my makeup.
It’s the story of a buttoned up father who, upon learning his estranged son died the first day into a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago through France and Spain, decides to complete the pilgrimage for his son, scattering his ashes along the way.
He reluctantly takes on a handful of traveling companions, first and for our purposes most importantly, “Joost from Amsterdam.”
Yorick van Wageningen plays jovial Joost, the mountainous Dutchman –think a lumberjack in the off season– who is walking the 800km way to lose a few pounds to fit into the suit he needs to wear for his brother’s wedding. Throughout the film Joost provides good-hearted comic relief and despite his desire to drop weight, he gladly, gleefully partakes of local lamb and fresh goat’s cheese and every simple gastronomical pleasure the road offers him. He’s never portrayed as a glutton, just a bon vivant with an appetite for everything, including food.
The peregrinos (pilgrims) are well over half way through their months-long trek when it’s revealed Joost’s wife doesn’t want to sleep with him because he’s fat.
There is a scene where good-natured Joost looks at himself naked in the mirror as he sits down to a beautiful tray of room service, delivered on the one indulgent day of their journey. Watching him cry in frustration and shame…well, something got in my eye again. I think the mold is going around.
I won’t ruin the end of the film, I know how people on the internet are about spoilers, but I cannot recommend this film enough. Watch the trailer and then see it for yourself.