Sometimes, you and your friends need to have some time together – time to solidify bonds, time to get to the bottom of each other, to strengthen your relationship. I’m not sure Miles and Jack needed their time together as they ‘prepared’ Jack for his impending wedding by spending a week in wine country. Having known each other since being college roommates, they must have known they were almost as different as chalk and cheese, and perhaps could have predicted the outcome of sharing a motel room for six nights together…

SidewaysWith wine, fine food, and friendly locals making their trip a gluttons paradise, we watch two stories of growth. Miles is depressed, chronically rejected by book publishers and women, and the wine buff extraordinaire whose obsession with wine is a marker for his own introspection. Jack is a narcissistic voice-over actor, who may not be ready to commit to a lifelong relationship. Their clashes, and the reasons for them, mean they both learn something, and hopefully they’ll be better for it.

Both leads give excellent performances – Giamatti in particular owns his role. He plays the loser Miles perfectly, giving this portrait of a man reevaluating his goals after chronic failure an honest and approachable touch. He continues to surprise in each role we see him in, and without Hollywood appearance stereotypes would be one of its leading men.

Haden Church is also good, with enough charm to pull off the bad boy act and still leave him as an endearing character. Madsen and Oh are both excellent, completing the other edges of this four-parter with aplomb.

There is much humour and wit in Sideways, as well as a perceptive view of male relationships, and also what happens when life’s expectations aren’t met. This is a very intelligent film, with a hopeful attitude – that in spite of failure and character flaw, one can rebound and achieve happiness. Carried off with excellent performances, Sideways is as good as you’ve heard it is.

Rating: 4.0 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 15th March 2005
Hoopla Factor: 4.0 stars

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