“Camino,” the new Danish movie, has just been released, and it has garnered rave reviews for its beautiful story and great execution. Directed by Birgitte Staermose, who co-wrote it with Kim Fupz Aakeson, the film is a story about a father-daughter relationship and the problems they face after they go on a 260-kilometer pilgrimage in order to honor the last wish of the mother, who died battling cancer.
Dan And Regitze Listen To The Tape
Regitze arrives late to her mother’s funeral after getting stuck in traffic. We see Jan, her father, is clearly devastated and is grief-stricken by his wife, Elizabeth’s, demise. She was a pastor and died battling cancer. Regitze arrives just in time to see the casket being taken away. Jan doesn’t talk to her at all and retires back to the pastoral residence. Regitze arrives with Heine to meet Jan. Heine tells Jan that the residence was an officially allotted one, and Jan will have to vacate it as soon as possible as it now belongs to the new pastor. He also offers him a book titled “Mastering Grief” to help Jan. Irritated by him, Jan shuts the door in his face after mumbling expletives.
Regitze stays back to look after Jan. She asks him to come out of the room, and they both sit down to have coffee. Jan finally takes out the tape that apparently contains Elizabeth’s last wish. The tape is played, and we find that her last wish is that Jan and Regitze walk the ‘Camino’, a 260-kilometer pilgrimage, starting from Astorga and ending at the grand cathedral in Cosmostela. Regitze expresses her disinterest in the tiring 11-day proposal. Jan becomes a little irritated and chides Regitze for not considering her mother’s last wish.
With the ball in Regitze’s court, she struggles with the decision to go on the hike. She discusses it with her friend over playing tennis and finally decides to go, albeit halfheartedly. She visits her mother’s grave with a bouquet, pays her respects, and starts packing for the trip. She receives a message from Jan telling her to pack a stone. Not taking the message seriously, she discards it, completes her packing, and meets Jan. They board the flight to Camino. The distance in their relationship becomes clearer as they make awkward small talk during the flight.
The Journey Begins
They finally reach Astorga to begin the Camino. Problems arise immediately as they get lost. Regitze looks to online maps, but Jan doesn’t listen to her and chooses to go with traditional, hand-made maps. Regitze is finally proven right about the way, and the trip continues.
Midway through, Jan breaks down, weeping, remembering Elizabeth. Regitze tries to console him, and they continue walking. Jan starts to show visible signs of fatigue and pain. Regitze points to his tennis shoes and how they might be uncomfortable in the long run. He stops and removes his shoes, seeing the blisters that have formed. A fellow pilgrim shows up, named Mirne. She is a kind middle-aged woman who is hiking alone. She offers her sandals to Jan for a more comfortable journey. He refuses, but after Regitze insists, he accepts.
They move into a hotel for the night. Regitze calls her friend. We learn that she is pregnant and is finding a way to tell Jan. She tries to bond at dinner and asks about her grandfather. Jan, instead of indulging in the conversation, acts a little upset. The hike begins the next day.
Mirne shows up again. Regitze asks Jan to join her, but Jan disdainfully declines the offer. Regitze is disappointed and feels lonely on the trip. They reach the Cruz de Ferro, an important milestone on the Camino, where Jan asks Regitze for the stone he asked her to bring. Regitze tells him she thought it was a silly joke. Jan is distraught and confronts Regitze, telling her she is afraid of having real feelings, which is why she didn’t bring the stone.
Tensions rise between the two, reaching their culmination when Jan throws a stone at a dog. This makes Regitze furious, and she asks Jan to imagine having a stone thrown at him. Jan mocks Regitze’s ability to take a challenge. He goes further to say that Regitze proved herself a failure in all her ambitions, whether it be veterinary studies, cooking, or tennis. Hurt by this, Regitze begins to withdraw into her shell. Jan pokes at her, challenging her to be tenacious and face life with courage.
On day 6 of the trip, Jan suddenly has an episode of hypoglycemia. Unaware of her father’s diabetes, Regitze is disturbed by the incident and starts to pack extra juices and biscuits. Jan, in his pride, says he can take care of himself. Unable to bond with him and tell him about the pregnancy, Regitze is left to feel lonely.
Mirne meets both of them again. This time she tries to bond with Jan and tells her about her husband’s death, her own fight with leukemia, and her friend’s demise. Humbled by it, Jan takes a rest to contemplate his attitude toward her. Later, Regitze meets the owner of a cafe and finally meets someone to spend time with. Jan expresses his disdain for this as well.
Filled to the brim with his father’s negative attitude, she confronts him in the evening. A drunk Jan and a disturbed Regitze get into a fight and make a scene at a pub. Jan reveals he is packing his mother’s ashes with him. This acutely disturbs Regitze, and she screams at Jan, who slaps her. In a scuffle, the packet burst, scattering the ashes. Regitze tries picking the leftovers.
Jan later asks Regitze to slap him back; this is his way of apologizing. Regitze, done with her father, says she will not complete the trip and is going back home. Before leaving, she tells Jan about her pregnancy. On her way home, the cafe owner finds her, telling her that Jan hit his head back in the cafe and needs care. Unable to leave his father unattended, Regitze agrees to go back.
Jan asks her about the father of the baby. Regitze explains there is no father as she plans to be a single mother. Jan advises her to abort the baby, hurting Regitze’s feelings once more. Really disturbed by her father’s opinions, she distracts herself by making food in the cafe using her cooking skills. Jan sees Regitze as being productive and feels ashamed. Regitze notices this and has a heartfelt conversation with him. Jan tells her about his own father and how he used to discourage him in every way, and maybe he has done the same to her. They both bond together.
A somewhat relieved Regitze kisses the cafe owner and fantasizes about starting a relationship, but her bubble bursts after she tells him of her pregnancy and sees him withdrawing. They finally arrive at the cathedral. Jan decides to stay outside and have coffee, where he meets Mirne again, but this time with a positive attitude, and has a pleasant chat with her. Regitze lights two candles in the cathedral, praying for her baby and her father. They start to begin their journey back home. Jan presses Regitze to have courage and ask the cafe owner for a relationship. The cafe owner declines, even though he likes Regitze. They head back to their homes.
‘Camino’ Ending Explained: Why Did The Cafe Owner Decline Regitze’s Companionship?
The cafe owner was a very nice man who lived with his mother. After handing over the cafe’s responsibility to his mother, he had plans to join a monastery and become a monk. When Regitze kisses him, he starts to have doubts about his decision, but ultimately he chooses to go ahead with his original plan. As a monk, one cannot have a lover, and hence the cafe owner declines Regitze’s offer, even though he promises that if ever he changes his mind, he will come and meet her.
“Camino” is a heartfelt tale of a woman struggling to bond with her father and vice versa and how a pilgrimage sorts out their differences. It’s playing in select theaters.