Way, The

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Not recommended under 13, Parental guidance 13-15 (Themes, Disturbing scenes and drug use)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Way, The
  • a review of Way, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 April 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes, disturbing scenes and drug use
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and drug use

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Way, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, drug use and coarse language
Length: 121 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Tom Avery (Martin Sheen), a 60 year-old Californian eye doctor receives a call informing him that his semi-estranged son Daniel (Emilio Estevez) has been killed in France. Apparently Daniel had been trapped a storm in the Pyrenees Mountains while on his first day of walking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) across France and Spain.

A heartbroken Tom flies to France to collect Daniel’s body, but after going through his son’s processions, Tom decides to pay homage to his son’s memory by walking the Camino de Santiago himself. Taking Daniel’s ashes and donning his backpack Tom sets off to walk theWay for his son. Along the road he reluctantly joins up with three other pilgrims, a food loving Dutchman called Joost (Yorick van Wageningen) who is walking the Way to lose weight, Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger) a Canadian running from an abusive relationship, and an Irishman named Jack (James Nesbitt) who issuffering writer’s block.

As Tom continues his journey he slowly begins to heal whilelearning about his fellow trekkers, the countryside and its people. By the time Tom has finished his journey he has developed a new understanding of both himself and his dead son.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Accidental death; grief and grieving; religion/religious pilgrimage; drug use

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

In one scene Tom and Sarah fight each other for possession of a box containing Daniel’s ashes. During the scuffle, Sarah punches Tom in the face. Later Sarah apologises to Tom, implying that her reaction was in response tobeing abused by her husband.

Sarah describes how she had a pregnancy terminated because she feared her husband would abuse the child, and how at times she hears the voice of her baby.

After becoming drunk and verbally abusing his friends, Tom is arrested by the police. We see Tom struggling with the police,staggering and falling down. Later we see Tom sitting in a police station with his wrist handcuffed to a heater rail.

Tom chases after a young thief who steals his backpack. When Tom loses sight of the boy he becomes angry, shouting and pleading for his backpack to be returned.   

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There is a brief image of the head and partial torso of a dead man (Daniel) in a body-bag on a table in a police morgue.
  • There is a brief image of a coffin being cremated and Tom’s grief-stricken response
  • In a bid to retrieve his backpack, Tom jumps into a turbulent river and is swept along until he manages to save himself.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes and by scenes when Tom scatters some of Daniel’s ashes at various locations along his trek.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes and by scenes when Tom scatters some of Daniel’s ashes at various locations along his trek.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains occasional low-level sexual innuendoes and references. Examples include:

  • Joost talks about wanting to lose weight to keep his wife happy and her refusal to sleep with him because he is too fat.
  • Joost jokes with a woman about her having “a thing for Dutchmen” to which the woman replies “In your dreams”.
  • A man says a woman was “sexy but complicated”.
  • Sarah discusses the termination of an unwanted pregnancy

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The backview of a man urinating against a tree.
  • The backview of a man wearing only a G-string standing out in the open while hanging up his clothes. 
  • While at a rest-house, Tom and his friends think they hear their host in the room upstairs having sex with a woman but, when they investigate, find that the man is talking to himself. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Throughout the film Tom and his fellow travellers are depicted drinking wine, beer, champagne and on occasions stronger alcohol. During one meal Tom becomes drunk and abusive and is arrested.
  • Joost is frequently depicted smoking marijuana. He offers marijuana and sleeping pills to several other people. In one scene Joost refers to marijuana as a tobacco booster that helps him sleep.
  • Sarah asks the small group if anyone has any drugs, to which Joost responds “I love this girl”.  When Joost offers Sarah marijuana and then sleeping pills she makes the comment “I love this guy”.
  • Sarah is a chain smoker and we frequently see her smoking cigarettes; she vows to quit several times.
  • Tom (while drunk) makes reference to Joost having a bad memory as a result of having smoked too much hash.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • How the hell?; screw the rest of us over; piss me off; oh my god’ Jesus, oh Christ; son of a bitch; jackass; bloody thieving Gypsies

In a nutshell

The Way is a drama targeting a mature adolescent and adult audience.   It is an inspiring, reflective film with a strong cast but the film’s mature themes and subject matter, including drug use,make it less suitable for younger teens and tweens.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • It’s OK to be who you are. You don’t have to change to suit others.
  • Make sure that  the choices you make in life give you space to “smell the roses” and take advantage of opportunities that come your way

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • The importance of introspection and self discovery: During his journey Tom spends much of his time reflecting on his past interactions with his dead son and through this reflection is able to come to terms with his own flaws and weaknesses.
  • Friendship: During the journey Jack, Sarah and Joost, each in their own way, demonstratefriendship and support for Tom.