“Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” an agreeable, by-the-numbers documentary about travelers who take a pilgrimage across northern Spain, is a hard film to dislike.
But this homage to the Camino, a world-famous path designed to enhance spiritual enlightenment, plays less like a profound journey and more like a vacation video with good production values.
The story begins as the travelers, all with their own reasons for embarking on the 500-mile trip, gather at the border of Spain, in St. Jean Pied de Fort, France. Their official destination: the city of Santiago de Compostela, on the other side of Spain. It’s a trip that can take four to six weeks, ensuring sore joints, sunburn and second thoughts.
Director Lydia B. Smith follows numerous (too many) characters around, and though most of these folks are pleasant enough, we don’t get a real sense of any of them
before, during or after their arduous journey. Oftentimes we hear about special moments, rather than see them.
Smith lets her subjects enjoy a respectable distance, an honorable strategy that doesn’t always work wonders for this project. Perhaps that is why the pilgrims’ arrival at Santiago de Compostela proves to be anticlimactic.
Nevertheless, this film moves along at a reasonably brisk pace and works well as a primer for the Camino. You may find yourself wanting to visit the popular path yourself.
(At the Tivoli.)