Sideways (15)

Written by Rex Pickett and Alexander Payne, Directed by Alexander Payne
Screening at FACT from 28th January - 17th February 2005

Reviewed by Adam Ford

A groom and his best man set off for a bachelor’s party/ holiday in California. One wants to sample the local vineyards and play golf, the other only wants to have a “last taste of freedom” before his marriage. What follows is a subtlely gentle comedy with more than just a fluttering of middle-aged angst.

Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a browbeaten failing writer and whiny wine obsessive who is trying to get over his divorce by taking Xanax. His friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is almost the complete opposite - an actor with a go-get-em attitude who chews gum as he drinks. Both feel their lives are going nowhere and need to discover what is most important. The two main actors give understated but excellent performances, with Giamatti in particular portraying his pathetic sad-sack but ultimately likeable character with expert rolls of his round brown eyes.

A kind of road trip film for the disillusioned, Sideways has won widespread critical acclaim alongside five Oscar nominations. While it may not quite be a classic, it’s definitely more of a pinot noir than a second cheapest down the offy.