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SIDEWAYS by Alexander Payne


CULTURE SHOCK ALERT! If your favourite movies are the likes of BLADE: TRINITY, MATRIX III, or RESIDENT EVIL and you think they are really any good, then this small, quiet, slow movie that’s neither slick nor cool, but might be almost European (specifically French) won’t appeal to you at all.

It’s about depressive, recently divorced Miles (Paul Giamatti), English teacher, unsuccessful writer, middle-aged (and you might call him a total loser), who can express his feelings only through (or hide them behind) his passion for fine wine, and his buddy Jack (Thomas Haden Church), hopeless actor, also-middle aged but still pubertal, who will get married in one week.
Together they hit the road and embark on a trip to the Californian wine country and into their inner self. Miles’ plan for the week is to enjoy a lot of good wines, play some rounds of golf and otherwise take it easy – while Jack’s only concern is to get laid before he’s getting a married man, and to brighten up grumpy Miles’ mood so he doesn’t spoil the fun (and getting him laid, too, seems like a good idea).
Maya (Virginia Madsen), waitress, studying agriculture and loving good wines, seems the perfect match – especially because she seems to have a soft spot for Miles already, and is quite impressed by his success as an author (which Jack generously and shamelessly invents). Jack hooks up with Stephanie (Sandra Oh), and she’s just what he was looking for – so much that he even befriends her mom and daughter and tells her about love and living together … leaving out the fact that he’s going to marry another woman by end of the week.
Miles’ attempts to talk some sense into Jack and wake up his conscience totally fail (“I can’t help it. I’m an ACTOR!”), until his tongue slips on a date with Maya and the fragile building of lies and half-truths collapses …

It’s a funny, sometimes depressing, slow, and quiet movie (with some vulgar scenes) with no knights in shining armor (our two heros have their fair share of flaws!), no baddies, no car chases, no action, no glamour and no shiny CGI – not about life as it ought to be in the movies, but as it is for so many who haven’t fulfilled any of their dreams. And it is a movie about life and love, Miles’ declaration of his love to a good Pernot actually depicting what love is all about …

Don’t blindly follow the hype (and the nominations) – this movie is getting a lot of publicity now, but it ain’t GODZILLA! Before you buy the ticket, consider first if this is the kind of movie you actually like.

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