The Way, Emilio Estevez, 128 mins (12A)
Take Me Home Tonight, Michael Dowse, 97 mins (15)
Red Hill, Patrick Hughes, 94 mins (15)

A Canterbury Tale on the Way of St James – only someone forgot to pack the narrative

If films were judged on the sincerity of their directors' good intentions, then The Way would be getting rave reviews.

Written and directed by Emilio Estevez as a vehicle for his father, Martin Sheen, it's a gentle drama that was shot on location in northern Spain, where the Estevez clan (Sheen is a stage name) has its roots. When you bear in mind how some Hollywood stars spend their time – Charlie Sheen, for instance – you have to applaud Estevez for shooting an uncommercial indie film in Europe, with a Spanish crew and a 70-year-old leading man.

The sad fact is, though, that if you judge The Way on the quality of the finished product, there's less to applaud. Sheen plays a Californian opthalmologist, whose 40-something son (Estevez himself, in flashback) dies at the start of an 800km pilgrimage route, the Way of St James. Sheen flies across the Atlantic to collect the body, but then decides to walk the "Camino" himself. Three strangers are soon tagging along: an Irish author (James Nesbitt) with writer's block – but not, alas, talker's block; an aggressive Canadian divorcee (Deborah Kara Unger); and a Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) whose chirpy dope-smoking doesn't challenge any stereotypes.

The four become friendly, but otherwise the trek is less eventful than most strolls to the bus stop. Estevez's dialogue is clunkingly unsubtle, and yet, ironically, it's never clear what he wants to say. We're told almost nothing about who Sheen is, or what he's hoping to achieve by going on his nature ramble. For that matter, there's no explanation for his ability to outpace companions who are decades his junior. Over all, Estevez suggests that the pilgrimage is a positive experience, but religion and spirituality get such a scant look-in that the Pennine Way might have been an acceptable alternative. Indeed, the film seems to be edging towards the idea that the Camino de Santiago is just another backpackers' tourist trail which doesn't have any higher meaning. But Estevez can't quite bring himself to say that, or anything else.

Take Me Home Tonight has even less of a point to make. Topher Grace (also the producer and co-writer) plays a recent MIT graduate who bumps into the beauty (Teresa Palmer) he never had the guts to ask out at school. As luck would have it, there's a house party scheduled for that very night, so Grace plans to make his move during the sub-Superbad revels.

Palmer, however, is so nice to him, simpering at his every crass faux pas, that there's never any doubt as to how the evening will end. The air of pointlessness is thickened by the actors being so much older than their characters, and by the 1980s setting, which contributes nothing except an excuse to put "Come On Eileen" on the soundtrack.

Red Hill is a modern-day Australian Western which also serves as a game of Spot The Cliché. It's set in a two-horse mountain town in the middle of nowhere. Its hero (Ryan Kwanten) is a fresh-faced policeman who transferred from the city when he couldn't shoot an armed assailant. On his first day in the job, he learns that a legendary Aboriginal tracker (Tom E Lewis) has broken out of prison, and is intent on slaughtering the lawmen who arrested him 15 years earlier.

Before you know it, there's a posse on the streets, and there's either lightning in the sky, or a bright full moon, depending on what the scene demands. Oh, and did I mention that the hero's wife is pregnant?

By rights, Red Hill should be nothing more than a winking Grindhouse-like pastiche, but it manages to refer to countless earlier Westerns, while standing up as a taut, scary thriller that should have you perching on the edge of your seat or hiding underneath it. Patrick Hughes, who wrote, directed, edited, and produced, has crafted a slyly funny screenplay which never descends into parody, and while Red Hill looks as stylish and scenic as any Hollywood blockbuster, it's so low-budget that Hughes had to use left-over film stock from a recent instalment of The Fast and the Furious. It's gratifying to know that that franchise has facilitated some genuine thrills at last.

Next Week:

Johnny Depp is back (but Keira Knightley isn't) in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth instalment of the swashbuckling saga

Also Showing: 15/05/2011

After the Apocalypse (65 mins, 12A)

This disturbing documentary reveals that the Soviet Union used a steppe in Kazakhstan as a nuclear testing ground known as The Polygon, leaving generations of residents with genetic abnormalities. The big picture is shocking, but After the Apocalypse is also a gripping drama which homes in on the urgent ethical clash between a pregnant shepherd's wife and a doctor who argues that she, having suffered from birth defects, shouldn't have a child herself. Excellent, but not for the faint-hearted.

Love Like Poison (92 mins, 15)

On the eve of her confirmation, a teenage girl has more earthly matters on her mind, in a village where no one, not even the local vicar, can decide between the spirit and the flesh. A sprightly, amusing, French coming-of-age vignette.

A Screaming Man (92 mins, PG)

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's dignified fable is set in Chad, where the friction between a father and son is intensified into a biblical tragedy by the combined pressures of global capitalism and civil war.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn