Monday, January 24, 2005

Movie Review: Sideways

The movie Sideways has received universal acclaim from critics as a brilliant bitter-sweet comedy. And it is good but, in my view, not quite as good as some are saying. Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) are long-time school buddies who decide to go on a week's tour of California's wine region in the week prior to Jack getting married. Miles is a failed novel writer who is recovering from his recent divorce and Jack is a failed actor who wants to make the best of his last week of being single. They couldn't be more different. Miles is depressed, introverted, and uncertain about everything except his love of wine -- a love which he hopes to introduce to Jack on their holiday. But Jack wants only to bed a woman for the last time before he is married. Soon after their holiday begins they meet two fascinating women -- Maya (Virginia Madsen), who is struggling to put her own recent divorce behind her, and Stephanie (Sandra Oh) who is a single mum working in a winery serving tastings to customers. As their friendships develop the two men are forced to reexamine their respective moralities, the meaning of their lives, and their attitudes about human relationships. There are some wonderfully touching moments and some hilarious incidents making the film a rich and satisfying experience. The locations are truly beautiful and the portrayal of the wine culture around California is interesting. There were times, though, I wondered whether I was watching a promo for California's wine country and wine consumption. Undoubtedly, those who love wine (and I am not one of those) will appreciate that aspect of the movie more than I did. It's good to see a movie that is moving and funny and deals with issues that are deeper than the typical Hollywood fare. A warning though: the film contains a large amount of coarse langage, a few quite explicit sex scenes, a scene of full-frontal nudity, and a lot of alcohol drinking. This means that the movie will not be for everyone. But this is a movie that should not be judged on the basis of the incidence of behaviour but on the overall themes and message of the movie. You can read more about this issue in the review by Christianity Today author Russ Breimeier (in fact, I recommend all Christians read this review to help them decide whether they want to see the movie or not). My Rating: **** out of 5. Best Review '...hysterically funny yet melancholy comedy...' - Kirk Honeycutt/The Hollywood Reporter Worst Review 'Alexander Payne's new movie, Sideways, makes you feel like you're trapped at dinner with a wiseass who's trying to convince you what a sensitive guy he is.' - Charles Taylor/ Read the Christianity Today review of this movie Buy the book of the movie at

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