What Sideways offers is a beautifully acted-out portrayal of redemption, friendship, wine drinking, and more wine drinking. Not being a huge admirer of his previous work – most notably his critically acclaimed 1999 comedy-drama film Election - I was slightly apprehensive when watching Sideways, despite rave reviews from friends. However, I knew never to trust my hunches – what a truly enjoyable, heartfelt feast of laughs and emotion. After immediately finishing this film, all I wanted to do was gather a group of friends, rent a convertible, soak up the Californian sun, and live the wine-country, road-trip dream. You are left with that same care-free, Kerouacian feeling, reminiscent of On The Road.
Sideways, a 2004 comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, is a must-see for any free-spirited soul. The story focuses on two friends, a wine aficionado/unsuccessful writer named Miles (Paul Giamatti) and his soon-to-be-married actor friend named Jack (Thomas Haden Church), who embark on a wine-tasting road trip before Jack ties the knot. It becomes instantly apparent that Jack just wants one final sexual fling before marriage, whilst Miles struggles to come to terms with his ex moving on and ultimately drowns his sorrows in his next bottle of wine, but not Merlot!
What ensues is a moving, intelligent, and yet truthful tale of pain and sorrow with a spectacular backdrop of wine, women and the open road. Any serious cinephile has to see Sideways.