A love letter to a life-changing experience, this portrait of a sextet of walkers on the famous Camino Frances that finishes at Santiago de Compostela tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the undertaking, from the sleeping arrangements to the size of the probable blisters.

As a film, it may lack both the documentarian's detachment and a overarching narrative concept - even with the chronological structure imposed by the walkers' progress, it is remarkably repetitive and slightly incoherent - but there is no denying the heartfelt sincerity of the entire undertaking.

The Camino (it's Spanish for path) de Santiago is the name given collectively to any one of several dozen ancient pilgrim trails heading west from various parts of Europe to the small city in northwestern Spain, the site of a shrine to (and, apocryphally, the remains of) the apostle James.

A 21st-century walker on the trail is less likely to find woebegone Catholic penitents than middle-class travellers at a crossroads in their lives, seeking inner peace by way of a secular pilgrimage.

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Smith, an experienced camera operator making her debut as director, crowd-funded the undertaking after completing the walk herself (the credit and "special thanks" list is almost as long as the film), which perhaps explains a promotional tone that at times veers close to missionary zeal.

Following half a dozen walkers for the 750km trail that begins in southern France, she captures just enough watchable and even inspiring moments to make up for the know-thyself banalities to which her walker-talkers are prone.

But it never quite shakes off the travelogue tone: the reality is that self-actualisation, like sex, is better when you do it than when you watch a movie of others doing it.

Director:

Lydia Smith

Running time:

84 mins

Rating:

PG (coarse language) In English and Spanish with English subtitles

Verdict:

Heartfelt and informative

- TimeOut