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Sideways movie poster


Sideways: Movie Review


Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Alexander Payne
Produced by: Michael London, Jay Cohen
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church, Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen
Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

In Short: It is poignant without being sappy. It is hysterical without being a comedy. And it deserves — unlike so many movies out these days — more than just a sideways glance.

Sipping the Wine Fantastic
Sideways: Hysterical, Poignant and Real

It’s common knowledge that George Clooney wanted to play the scoundrel sidekick, Jack, in the film, “Sideways.” But director/co-writer Alexander Payne (“Election,” “About Schmidt), knew exactly what he was doing when he cast the much lesser known Thomas Haden Church. For this is not a movie about stars. This is a movie about people. Real, flawed people… albeit a few of these people know an awful lot about wine.

The movie opens with Miles (Paul Giamatti), a grade school teacher and failed novelist, taking his old college buddy, Jack, a once-famous soap star, on a weeklong trip through the Santa Ynez wine country. Jack is about to get married, and this is to be their last hurrah. It turns out Miles and Jack define “hurrah” in quite different ways. Miles wants to golf and taste wine. Jacks wants to have one last, well, you know.

Miles is dowdy, depressed and obsessed with wine. Jack is a womanizer — the worst kind, one who is scarcely aware of what he’s doing and can’t understand when his “last fling,” Stephanie (Sandra Oh) finds out about his fiancée and nearly beats him to death with a motorcycle helmet. While it might seem that Miles’ partner-in-crime during this week is the no-good Jack, it is in fact wine. It offers him solace, and it gets him a girl. Stephanie’s friend Maya (Virginia Madsen), is a waitress studying horticulture on the side. There are many ways to seduce a man, but when it comes to Miles, Maya wins his heart unwittingly, with one of the most sensuous monologues in film history, as she rhapsodizes about her love of fine wine.

Almost every scene in this movie is worth mentioning, but we can’t do that to you. One of the best things about this film is its element of surprise. It is poignant without being sappy. It is hysterical without being a comedy. And it deserves — unlike so many movies out these days — more than just a sideways glance.

Reviewed by Poppy Carew

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