- Alexander Payne
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a failed writer who also happens to be a wine expert. He takes his actor friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a stateside trip for one week before Jack marries. That said, all Jack wants to do is get laid, and he soon finds in Stephanie (Sandra Oh) the perfect prey. But Miles should have some fun too, so Jack hooks him up with Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress Miles has been fond of for some time now.
At first glance itís difficult to appreciate why Sideway is such a wonderful, poignant, though-provoking movie. After all, itís all about a guy who only thinks of sex and a guy who is his exact opposite, especially after having just come out of a painful divorce. And sure, the movie is really funny. Yes, it is a comedy. And itís very effective at that. So why?
Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor did a beautiful job in translating Rex Pickettís novel to the big screen. Sideways is just like the fine wine the characters in the movie keep drinking and talking about. It takes its time, it suddenly comes alive, and the aftertaste is simply delicious, flavoring its different moments depending on how you look at it.
It is also a movie about two guys in the midst of a mid-life crisis. And beyond all the comedy lies the story of two individuals who are actually quite sad and lonely, searching for answers in disparate ways. Their relationship is developed carefully and realistically, as is the one between Miles and Maya. That said, the best scene of the movie belongs to these two, just sitting and talking at Stephanieís porch. It just doesnít get any better.
The four lead performances in Sideways are all perfectly suited to their characters. This is what I call perfect casting. Paul Giamatti leads in a wonderful, understated, pathos-filled performance that carries the movie on its shoulders and comes off incredibly well. Thomas Haden Church, on the other hand, is the scene stealer, delivering the absolute best supporting performance of the year. Heís hilarious, over-the-top and as sad as it gets. Virginia Madsen, on the other hand, is glorious and gives the movie its spiritual weight. And Sandra Oh is irresistible in the smaller role of them all.
Minor complaint: Rolfe Kentís score. Iís like elevator music! Completely distracting at times.
ďAnd it tastes so fucking good.Ē
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Other reviews of Sideways (2004): Groucho