Director: Alexander Payne
Genre: Drama/ Comedy
Runtime: 124 minutes
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Description: Two men reaching middle age (Paul Giamattis, Thomas Hade Church) with not much to show but disappointment, embark on a week long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.
Review: When “Sideways” is released, director Alexander Payne is relatively unknown in Hollywood. He has made praiseworthy films “About Schmidt” and “Election”. “Sideways” is a great follow up. We follow two friends who spend a week in the Californian wine area. It’s a very simple set up, which results and a realistic and convincing film.
Jack is about to get married and takes his buddy Miles on a trip to the Californian wine area. It is his last week as a ‘free man’ and Jack takes that very seriously. The two are very different. Jack is an actor, mostly for commercials, a ladies man and someone who enjoys life to the fullest. Miles is a depressed newly divorced failed writer, who spends his days teaching English and enjoying wine.
As a real wine expert Miles wants to teach Jack to enjoy the perfect Pinot or Cabernet and protects him from cheap Merlot. Miles has it all planned out: a week of wine tasting, fine dining, a little golf and enjoying the nice weather. Off course the weekend goes a little different as planned, because Jack has set a goal to find a nice girl to have some fun with. And he wants Miles to do the same. They meet Maya and her friend Stephanie, both wine lovers as well. Jack and Stephanie have an instant connection, but Miles and Maya’s bond is of a different caliber.
“Sideways” is a beautiful drama, but also a delightful comedy. The balance between these two genres is perfect and none of it is overdone. A film that manages to make you feel for and with the characters for over two hours and you share their happiness and pain. “Sideways” is an endearing and honest film. Because the main characters are people you can relate to, so we’re all rooting for a happy ending. Director Payne manages to avoid certain clichés.
Paul Giamatti is great in “Sideways”. You just want to hug his character and tell him everything is going to be okay. Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh all perform very well.
“Sideways” is in a way a coming of age film, but then with men that are a little bit older. A definite must see.
Rating: 4,5/ 5