If a movie is released anytime soon that is more touching, meaningful and hilarious than Alexander Payne's "Sideways," it will be nothing short of surprising. Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his best friend, Jack, (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong trip to California's wine country. Jack is set to marry in one week, and the two leave to drink the best wine and meet the best women before he takes the final plunge. Along the way Jack has an affair and begins to question the wedding, while Miles tries to find his reason for still living, working as a grade school English teacher and having failed at getting published over and over.
The casting for "Sideways" could not have been better. Giamatti will probably be nominated for an Oscar, perfectly portraying this depressed, down-and-out English teacher trying so hard to give the uncooperative Jack the time of his life before he's hitched for the long haul. There couldn't have been a better decision than asking Church to play the role of Jack. He hadn't acted in a major role since he played Lowell, the mechanic in the television show "Wings," and it's a really nice surprise to see him in such an amazing part. While Miles searches for meaning in his life, Jack searches for a meaningless time, and the contrast couldn't be shown any better.
The directing is incredible; Payne really knows how to put the audience through many emotions in the span of two hours. The music flows well throughout, combining with beautiful scenery of the vineyards and small-town restaurants to give the audience the feel of living with the characters and taking part in the scenes. Miles' love interest, Maya (Virginia Madsen), has an incredible monologue on why she loves wine, an unforgettable part that is sure to give you shivers of profoundness. The scenes of Miles by himself while Jack is off with his fling are extremely sad at times, making the audience feel for his character and hope to see him dig himself out of his depression. He also has a scene explaining why he has so much respect for the pinot noir grape, revealing the depth of his love for the wine culture.
"Sideways" is a movie that will live on forever in any movie collection, and even longer in the minds of those who experience it. Payne has truly outdone himself this time, and it's exciting to think of what he'll crank out next.
4 out of 4 head o' ram.