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Sideways (2004)

  Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Alexander Payne, Rex Pickett, Jim Taylor
Starring: Thomas Haden Church, Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
Links: Sideways on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Sideways (2004) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).

"One of the better films of the past year" - a review by pearly

What to say about Sideways? This is the little film that could, succeeding despite the fact that it came out at the same time as so many other worth Oscar nominees, and more than just that, managing to stick in your memory as one of the better films of the year. Not surprising coming from Alexander Payne, the guy who last brought us About Schmidt (2002).

There's Miles (Paul Giamatti). He's in a rut, having split up with his wife, and feeling that his life is going nowhere. He's just waiting for the call to come in from publishers to say that they like his book, and that will turn his life around. But while he's waiting, he's going on a road trip with Jack (Thomas Haden Church). Jack is about to be married, and the road trip is an extended buck's night / opportunity for Jack to sleep with as many women as he wants before he's "taken".

After a couple of hiccups, they head to wine country; familiar ground for Miles, but new for Jack. It's here that they meet up with Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh), two locals who work at a restaurant and a winery, respectively. They all go on a double-date, but while Jack just wants to live it up and party the night away, Miles can't manage to get himself into the spirit. And it is in this conflict where the true gold of the story is created.

Sideways is both a drama and a comedy. Its style is to pepper the script with funny moments, but not aim for a laugh a minute. It almost lulls you into a sense of the seriousness of the whole thing, and then drops something funny on you, making the funny thing even more hilarious. I guess you could describe it as the comic equivalent of a suspense film - you're never quite sure when something's going to happen next.

But besides the wonderful and ridiculous story, the film is blessed with a superb cast. Giamatti is absolutely spot-on in his role, and is the stand-out member of the cast without a doubt. His comic timing is excellent, and besides that, he has a huge presence on screen. It's very difficult to imagine this film being anywhere near as wonderful without him. His tag-team partner here is Church, and the two play off each other so well, that it's at times difficult to determine which character you hate more (they both do some very moronic things). The girls do a great job too, but particularly Oh, whose Jennifer is one crazy lady.

Sideways is just unusual enough to generate welcome interest in what it's doing, without being so quirky that you think it's laboured. Definitely one you'll remember.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 9 Feb 2005

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