Camino Skies review: Lightweight but uplifting
Ivan Radford | On 13, May 2020
Director: Fergus Grady, Noel Smyth
Cast: Manny Domingo
Watch Camino Skies online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
The Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile path that goes from French border with Spain through to Santiago de Compostela, has been a pilgrimage for centuries, as people from around the world seek religious revelations, time for reflection or just a good old hike. It’s also been the inspiration for many films over the years, from Luis Buñuel’s The Milky Way to Emilio Estevez’s The Way.
The latter, a 2010 drama, found understated drama and heartwarming humanity in the trek made by a father whose son passes away. Camino Skies, a new documentary from directors Fergus Grady, Noel Smyth, treads similar territory to equally endearing effect. Where Estevez’s film was naturally anchored in one person’s journey, Camino Skies benefits from being able to open up to multiple stories and perspectives, as we follow group of six strangers from New Zealand and Australia each undertaking the trek for different reasons.
There’s a shared sense of overcoming personal and physical trauma, and that cathartic release – a hard-won release, built from blisters and shin splints – is tangible. There’s one septuagenarian refusing to let her arthritis hold her back, there’s a woman attempting to come to terms with losing her husband and her son, and there’s a father who is walking in memory of his teenage daughter, who had cystic fibrosis.
The filmmakers largely keep their distance with a respectful tone throughout, which leaves the walk notably less painful or spiky than it might be, but it’s hard not to relate and root for the humanity on display – not least because the movie captures the growing communal support that builds between the group, even if they occasionally tire of each other. Perhaps the biggest strength, though, is the walk itself, as the landscapes – even on a budget – don’t fail to look beautiful. Not one for those susceptible wanderlust, but ideal for those looking to take a low-key plod away from the current state of the world, this lightweight but uplifting travelogue offers gentle escapism – sometimes, perhaps a little too gentle.