Monday 31 January 2005

Sideways (2004) - ickleReview (cinema)

Pathetic* comedy with a moving performance by Paul Giamatti in the central role as Miles, an unpublished middle-aged divorced writer, working as an eighth-grade English teacher. He takes his buddy, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), on a roadtrip to the vineyard region of California to taste some fine wines, play some golf and fool around a little before Jack gets married to his Armenian girlfriend. Jack is out for a final fling and intends to get Miles's "bone smooched" to lighten him up. Miles is a wine connoisseur: he detects in a sniff, "Citrus, passion fruit, just the faintest soup├žon of asparagus, and, like, a nutty Edam cheese"; Jack, on the other hand, gulps it down with chewing gum in his mouth, saying, "It tastes alright to me." They meet Maya and Stephanie and go out for a series of double dates, some of which look suspiciously like a wine advert with young people having fun in the setting sun (only these guys are middle-aged divorcees). There's also a bit of the morning afters when Maya looks like she could be in a Nescafe advert, opening her front door to bright, hazy sunshine, hands cupped around a mug of the black stuff. You can almost smell that aroma...

Nugget: a bit of an uneven film, but very touching in parts, especially Maya's speech about what she likes about wine. It's very funny, but I wasn't always laughing when I was supposed to, perhaps because much of the rest of the film is so poignant. Something a little different, with perhaps a dash of rosemary.

* Pathetic in the sense of "full of pathos", rather than "pathetic" in the sense of shite.


  1. A recommendation for your IckleReviewing pleasure: "The Human Stain" (2003, I think), featuring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, et al.
    And for cheesy non-thinking fare: "The Terminal," featuring Tom Hanks. I don't know if it is on video yet o'er there...
    Hope all is well with you. When I am less braindead (as I mentioned in my Xanga) I will get back to posting in the eGroup.

  2. Interested to see that you liked this as much as I did, Chris. I was afraid it was very middle-aged (though its box-office success should have told me that was not the case, as I believe - especially US - cinema-goers are overwhelmingly young). Like you, I found the good acting, well-written dialogue, sweet, touching and funny qualities enough to override the bits that looked like they were out of an ad.