Saturday, 13 August 2011

Film Review: SIDEWAYS (2004)

Sideways_poster Co-Writer/Director: Alexander Payne
Running time: 126 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
UK Release date: 28th January 2005

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 13th August 2011.


As this is the 150th film I’ve seen this year I wanted to watch a film I enjoyed first time around, and what better, I thought, than the 2004 wine comedy ‘Sideways’. Well, it happened to have it on the Sky+ hard drive and it was due a watching anyway. I did enjoy this film quite a lot first time around, probably because I could identify with one of the characters. This time, maybe a little less, but I still found it a pretty enjoyable watch. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts on the matter.

sideways2 Two guys, Miles and Jack, set of for a wine tasting week in California. Jack is to be married the following week and it’s kind of a stag week with just the two of them (which I did find a little odd). Now Jack is an actor, he had worked in TV before, but now finds most of his work in commercials. Miles is an English teacher who has ambitions to become a novelist. On their first night they go to a local restaurant where they meet Maya, a waitress. Miles knows her from trips he had made to wine country in the past (he’s a bit of a wine buff). Jack notices that Maya is interested in Miles and tells him so. Miles is hesitant, but also intrigued. Jack has also made it clear that he wants to get laid before he get married, and the next day he uses all his charms on Stephanie, who works at a winery and also knows Maya. They all decide to get together for a meal and things are going well until Miles gets drunk and decides to phone his ex-wife. They all end up back at Stephanie’s place where Miles and Maya talk, but things do not progress at this stage. Jack, on the other hand, is having a wild time with Stephanie! As the days go by, Jack and Stephanie see more and more of each other, leaving Miles to his own devices. Eventually he gains the courage to see Maya again, but will it last? Will Jack get away with not telling Stephanie that he’s getting married? So many questions… Most of which I cannot answer here for fear of the Spoiler Police forcing me to drink Merlot! I guess you have to have seen the film to get that little in-joke.

sideways1 A really well scripted film with a lot of dialogue, little of which is wasted. It’s a real character piece and there are some great characters to get your teeth into here. Performance-wise, I couldn’t fault any of the leading cast; Paul Giamatti did a superb job as Miles, Thomas Haden Church was a tremendous foil for Giamatti as Jack, Virginia Madsen was great as Maya and Sandra Oh did a fantastic job as Stephanie.

sideways-2004--00-630-75 Although neither of the leading men are particularly likeable, both are liars and one is a cheat, I did find myself feeling a little sympathy for Miles. He hadn’t made the best of what he had and was now in a situation where the lies were getting too much. Could he learn to be more honest? At the end of the day I did enjoy watching this film again, I guess my only criticism is that it is a little too long. What I did like very much though is the ending… No, I’m not going to tell, but it’s a worthy ending to an entertaining film… Recommended.

My Score: 8.1/10.

IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 76,620 votes when this review was written).

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97/100 (based on 213 reviews counted when this review was written).

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