perhaps difficult to detect at first glance, “Sideways”
is the ultimate post-modern western, whereby the two heroes
are replaced by antagonistic antiheroes and their noble
steeds are substituted for the dependable, yet detestable,
wreck that is their oxidized red convertible.
Meet Miles, a tragically depressed, failed novelist whose
neurotically compulsive behavior seems an uncanny match
for his cavalier, nonchalant college roommate. Jack, the
carefree flirt and debonair infomercial actor is well
past his golden age. Friends they are, and friends they
will remain, both before and after their unforgettable
trip through California wine country the week prior to
Jack’s wedding to Armenian heiress, Christine.
to send his friend out in style, Miles has big plans for
Jack that include submersing him in the decadent culture
of wine tasting and all its fine traditions, nuances,
and… select wineries. Jack, the brash man with the palate
of a two-year old, is hard-pressed to understand Miles’
meticulous inspection of the tasty spirits. In short,
Miles sips and Jack guzzles his way through the valleys
of inland California, sampling the best of Pinot, Cabernet,
and Syrah; with never the mention of Merlot unless to
pejoratively damn its incompetent standing.
Jack has been concocting the ultimate Bachelor gift for
his best friend Miles and he, the gift of carnal knowledge.
Jack insists on an infidel affair that will be his final
hurrah to his bachelor days of old. As Miles and Jack's
adventures help them cross paths with the fiery vineyard
baron, Stephanie, it isn’t long before Jack has manifested
multiple instances where he works all her angles. This
simultaneously allows Miles to take his best shot at the
lovely friend, wine virtuoso, Maya. But Miles’ discomfort
with the latest news of his ex-wife’s remarriage has set
him reeling. All the while Jack and Stephanie have evolved
into a saucy relationship that is as fast as Jack and
Miles’ unexpected trip. But shallow “I love yous” and
empty promises of relocating and living with Stephanie
and her daughter, have Miles shaking his head in disgust
at the disloyal Jack, who still whole heartedly intends
to marry Christine.
to save his marriage, Jack enlists the help of the regretful
Miles who, in a brief moment of courage, sneaks into a
house and retrieves Jack’s ‘ill-placed’ wallet. Together
the two set out to wreck Miles’ car to account for the
narrative they need to construct to explain Jack’s newly
depressingly anti-climactic downfall progresses into depths
of midlife crises, typical depression and self-loathing
attune to the fine abilities of human nature. Though Jack
and Miles return safely to their humble abodes in San
Diego, Jack to marry the next day, Miles, to continue
hating himself, and the depression for Miles sinks even
lower still. This is all after news of his ex-wife’s recent
pregnancy and his latest rejected novel, which allows
him to hit rock bottom. The solution is opening his coveted
1961 Cheval Blanc and downing it in ample gulps alongside
a greasy cheeseburger and fried onion rings. Can he ever
pull himself out of the this funk and begin living, or,
will the comforts of wine remain his only solace in life?
is an enjoyable film with acute attention to detail, not
only with the cinematography and plot development, but
also the aura of wine and its bouquets, colors and aromas.
Jack and Miles are far from regal heroes, and come loaded
with flaws and shortcomings that are wholly and shamelessly
displayed for all of America to either judge, or simply
delight in. Despite their pariah-like characters, it is
as easy to love, as loathe, Jack and Miles for their faults
that are garishly displayed in all their imperfect glory.
is a brutally honest film that unveils the true highs
and lows of the common man, as well as their trials and
tribulations to overcome everyday adversities.
played by Paul Giamatti, is the pathetic, meandering failed
novelist whose desperate attitude and actions borderline
comical, yet detestable.
played by Thomas Haden Church, the slap-stick, slow-witted,
animalistic and cavalier actor whose main goal for the
week’s trip is the sew his oats.
played by Virginia Madsen, the captivating wine-connoisseur
and down-to-earth godsend that, for a brief moment, gives
Miles something to live for.
played by Sandra Oh, the saucy vineyard employee who engages
in a fiery-tempered, fast-moving affair with the lustful