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Film review by Colin Fraser

SIDEWAYS

sideways
Two friends head to wine country to celebrate a buck's week in this road comedy with a kick. score

5
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1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
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Cast
Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen

Director

Alexander Payne

Screenwriter
Alexander Payne

Country
USA

Rating / Running Time
MA / 123 minutes

Australian Release
January 2005

Official Site


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Miles (Paul Giamatti) is an English teacher and the unpublished author of The Day After Yesterday, which is what today usually feels like for anyone who drinks as much as Miles. Not that he’s an alcoholic, he considers vintage red ‘quaffable’ and can still sniff the cashew in Pinot Gris long after the rest of the table has passed out. But he has issues which his best friend and failed soap-star Jack (Thomas Haden Church) thinks can be solved with sex. "You need to get your joint worked," he says as the pair head for California’s vineyards to celebrate Jack’s impending wedding. Miles wants to drink and forget, he wants to drink and get laid thus setting the scene for one of the best films of the year - a very funny, often sad and always moving road-comedy about friendship, love and regret. The narrative catalyst appears in the womanly shapes of Maya and Stephanie who double date the self-deceivers, opening up great misunderstanding, farcical tragedy and the bloom of hope.

Sideways revels in a tight script pinned by the boy’s forgivably troubled relationship: while Jack is crude he is loyal, Miles is witty yet crippled by insecurity. Maya and Stephanie provide necessary body against which the boy’s trespasses can be forgiven (mostly) and give us plenty with which to identify. Written and directed by Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt), Sideways is an award-winning gem of essential film-making that shows great heart and emotion – a nimble blend that trips over the tongue to warm the soul and knock you, well, sideways.

// COLIN FRASER