Here is a movie that celebrates the art of drinking good wine and the art of fine conversation. It could be a comedy for there are some funny dialogues and situations, it may definitely be a drama for people get hurt and suffer, it might even be a romance since there are ordinary people falling for other ordinary people. However, Sideways is surely a nice, relaxing movie that feels so good that you're left wondering if some little piece of you wasn't by any chance left hidden in the beautiful vineyards, the cosy conversations or a pair of sad eyes.
Sideways is one of those lovable movies with great script, meaningful dialogues and good music. The scenery is great, the wine is so inviting, the jazz is so mellow and sparkling, the characters are so alive and humane that I kind of felt left out of this good party for intelligent people. But then I poured myself a glass of Pinot noir and joined the fun, much to my not being a wine aficionado. And even went straight to a wine dictionary to do a bit of research where Merlot, Pinot and Riesling are concerned. For there is a particular scene in the movie where Miles, a depressed, unpublished, divorced writer and English teacher gives the most enticing monologue on his passion for Pinot noir. Paul Giamatti truly offers one of the best performances of his life for as Miles, he is witty, genuine, humane. He tells Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress for whom he fell deeply that Pinot is a sensitive, delicate grape that requires great care. He identifies himself with this particular wine and as he marvels at the exquisite qualities of Pinot, he is actually unveiling his true, wounded self. And Maya or any other woman for that matter, is taken aback by his responsiveness and feels totally drawn to him. Miles does not claim to be a wine connoisseur but rather a man with a passion and a sensitive palate. Chances are he meets a great woman, who shares not only his enthusiasm for wine but also happens to like him for all his insecurity, depression, failure as a husband and writer.
Miles needs an opposing character to counter his insecurity and he comes along as his former college roommate, handsome actor, Jack (Thomas Haden Church) and the two of them pair up and go on a week long trip in the land of wine. Miles's so-called gift as Jack's best man -for he is about to tie the knot in a week- is but a cover-up for his depression and loneliness. When he finds out that his ex-wife, Victoria has recently remarried and coming to the wedding, he snaps and drinks himself into pain. His unresolved feelings for his former wife are silently outspoken when devastated, Miles, stop running from his friend Jack and tenderly strokes a beautiful grape. Later on, the two of them meet Maya, the waitress and her friend, Stephanie (the amazing Sandra Oh), who pours wine for tourists. Jack gets infatuated with Stephanie, a single mom that can be either loving or vengeful, when needed. And Maya is sweet, warm, tender and lively and she reads Miles's rejected novel for the simple, emotional book that it is and the author for the lonely, hurt man that loves her. Golf, wine and a nice trip are nothing but a chance to happiness for Miles whereas, for Jack, a womanizer, the week culminates with a broken nose, a cuckold on his tail and a lot of explaining to do. Still, Jack deserves our pity for he is immature and senseless, the perfect image of a TV second hand actor, desperate to get laid before getting hitched.
Sideways is much more than a wasted bottle of '61 Cheval Blanc, an unpublished novel, a drinking problem, some broken hearts, good food, a foursome, a raise in Pinot sales, Xanax and Lexapro, incredible jazz in the background, a good laugh. The movie itself is a celebration of life on its most uncosmeticised day when good novel, great script, excellent directing joined hands to produce a touching, breathtaking film. Raise your glasses for Sideways!