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Australian veteran shines in ‘The Way, My Way’

The Bugle App

Lleyton Hughes

27 June 2024, 12:11 AM

Australian veteran shines in ‘The Way, My Way’Credit: Bill Bennett

You may have seen Australian actor Chris Haywood in classic Australian films like ‘Muriel’s Wedding’, ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’, or ‘The Man From Snowy River’. Or maybe you saw him on ‘Neighbours’ for a brief stint in 2013? Or maybe you’re like me and you haven’t seen him in anything before.

But if you’ve watched the new film from Australian Director Bill Bennett (‘Two if by Sea’, ‘Kiss or Kill’) ‘The Way, My Way’, you’ll be clamouring to see everything he has done before because he is truly undeniable.

‘The Way, My Way’ is based on the memoir of the same name written by Bennett about his experience walking the 800km pilgrim walk across Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

Bennett talks about how he was originally skeptical of the idea of turning his memoir into a film as he didn’t want to make a movie about himself and the person that he was when he did the walk.

“But finally they convinced me to take a swing at writing the screenplay,” says Bennett. “Some seven years later, and after more than 40 drafts of the script, I finally found a way to tell my story. I detached myself from myself and wrote the script about that man over there – not me – that stupid horrible man over there who, under certain lighting conditions and with the right wardrobe, might look a bit like me,” says Bennett.

And Chris Haywood does a remarkable job portraying this man. He is irritable, impatient, stuck in his ways and insecure. But he also has this strange sort of energy that attracts you to him and forces you to root for him.

And without this nuance, the film would probably be insufferable and hard to watch. It would become a movie about a terrible person who we would be sick of watching after ten minutes.

The film chronicles Bill’s walk, and his encounters with the other pilgrims walking the track as well. Interestingly, a majority of these pilgrims are portrayed by the same people the real Bill met on the walk.

This gives the film an improvised sort of quality where you’re unsure whether these encounters are scripted or not.

Out of all the characters, only four are played by real actors. Bennett’s wife, Jennifer Cluff, plays herself and two of the woman pilgrims are played by Pia Thunderbolt and Laura Lakshmi.

The film is a little chaotic at times, and sometimes things work out a little too perfectly, but the anchor keeping it at bay is Haywood’s performance. There is a phone call with his wife near the end of the movie which is heartbreakingly honest and personal and you will struggle to make it out without tears.

Overall, the film has its flaws, but Haywood’s performance is more than good enough to carry the film all the way to its finale.