Sideways (2004) – Film Review
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen
by Matt Callard
As wine buffs go, Miles (Paul Giamatti) is an unconventional sort. Harbouring a morbid and violent hatred of Merlot, fleshing out his lonely evenings with Xanax and soft porn and, on one occasion, pouring the contents of the slops bucket over his head. It’s unlikely Jilly Cooper’s inviting him to her next barbecue.
Sideways is a comic road movie about divorce, depression, breakdown and a consoling love of wine. It’s a bit like how you feel Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure might really be after the cameras stop rolling and the faux-bonhomie is put to one side.
“Plenty of darker, more sombre moments”
So Miles and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), a fading TV actor who is about to marry, hit the road for one week of middle-age debauchery. Jack wants to sleep with everything in sight, Miles wants to drink everything in sight.
What seems on one level like an amiable, rueful romp, about middle-age issues never gets too saccharine. Director Alexander Payne adds Woody Allen existentialism and plenty of darker, more sombre (sober?) moments into the mix.
Sometimes tender, sometimes excruciating, Sideways is an unusual, original film about a couple of genuine American anti-heroes. You can’t help but warm to them.