Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
Why should I save sex for marriage? Answer
What is “fornication”? Answer
DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
DEPRESSION—If God knows I am hurting, why doesn’t He help me? Answer
NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer
|Featuring:||Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen, Marylouise Burke|
|Producer:||Michael London, Jay Cohen|
|Distributor:||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
In search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves.
“Miles Faymond (Giamatti), a divorced middle school teacher and failed novelist, and his altar-bound friend Jack (Church) take a wine-tasting trip in California, pondering questions about their directions in life.”
Finally, a character in a movie said exactly what I have been thinking for years about the nature of Hollywood’s “true love”. It happens in movies all the time, someone falls “in love” with a person they have known for only about 13 seconds and will seemingly do anything for that person. The person could be a serial killer for all we know, but the infatuated soul just knows it is true love, and the movies usually never stop to examine the authenticity of the “love”. It is assumed we will just take it for what they say it is, but I, for one, can never seem to let it slide.
“Sideways,” Alexander Payne’s masterful new film, takes us on an alluring road trip through California wine county with middle-aged best-buds Jack and Miles. Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is getting married in a week, so his college pal and oenophile Miles (Paul Giamatti) has planned a road trip for the two that will feature good food, good golf, and great wine.
This was Miles plan at least; things never quite go the way the one plans in real life, much less in the movies. At one of their first stops, where Miles has obviously been before, they run into Maya (Virginia Madsen), an unassuming waitress who clearly is interested in Miles. They have met before, but Miles has convinced himself that she is married, and would have no interest in him. Besides, he is busy enough moping about his marriage that failed on him two years prior; his only joy seems to come from his love of fine wine, pinot in particular.
Soon after meeting Maya, they meet Stephanie (Sandra Oh), at one of their stops to taste the local wine. Jack is instantly attracted to her, and begins laying the charm on thick. Jack is a television actor, although his career now mostly consists of voice-overs you hear in car commercials. While Miles has a penchant for fine wine, Jack’s vice is fine women. He reveals to Miles that his goal for their little road trip is to “get laid” before he has to walk the aisle.
It just so happens that Stephanie and Maya are friends, so they arrange a double date, where Jack’s infidelities begin, and a genuine friendship between Maya and Miles blossoms, assuming his depressed nature doesn’t get in the way.
“Sideways” is a relationship film, and, while the women in their lives seem to complicate matters (while complementing the film), Miles and Jack’s relationship has clearly stood the test of time; more than likely due to the fact that they don’t see each other all that often. The old saying that opposites attract clearly comes into play here. Jack may have trouble with the women in his life, and needs lots of advice in how to handle those matters, but he is always there for Miles. He is always there to say something encouraging to his friend, to try to break him from his post-divorce stupor and get him to get his nose out of the wine glass and take a sniff of the real world.
The content in “Sideways” will more than likely be the cause of many passing on this movie. It is a shame the film had to be so vulgar, when it had great things to say. The language is strong, and anyone familiar with Payne’s previous works (“About Schmidt”) will have an idea what to expect. There are at least 75 f-words, and many profane uses of God’s name, in all of the various usages.
The sexual content is also very strong, and features two notably graphic sex scenes, accompanied by sounds and explicit dialogue. The main characters are not very admirable the majority of the time—with their constant drinking and sexual exploits—so Christians need to be fully prepared for the content.
Due to its filmmaking quality, this movie has Oscar® buzz all over it, which is primarily what drew me to it. The performances are incredible. Paul Giamatti plays his sad-sap to perfection, even though his character reminded me of ones he has played before. There is a scene at the end of the film, when he sees his ex-wife, that is a perfect example of an actor trying to suppress a whole lot of emotion to maintain his dignity. Thomas Haden Church carries the film, mixing hilarious dialogue and gestures with deep sincerity at times. His best scenes are when he simply talks to his friend; there is a lot to learn about these two, and the two men reveal the genuine sides of the character’s brilliantly. Virginia Madsen is top notch in a very vulnerable way; she is open, but fragile, and is willing to share herself with someone if they will just take the time to ask.
Ok, so back to comments I made when I started this review. About halfway through the film, after Jack and Stephanie have toured the local vineyards and spent time in his hotel room, Jack comes down to the bar to see Miles. He tells Miles that he has never felt this way about anyone, and is thinking about putting everything on hold to give this relationship a chance (remember, he has a wedding approaching rapidly).
Miles looks at him dumbfounded, as if he has no idea how he ended up being a friend to this guy. He reminds Jack that he doesn’t know what he is talking about, because he has only known this woman for 24 hours. There is no possible way he could have fallen in love with her that fast, he reminds him. It was something simple, I know, but when so many other movies mistake lust for love, it is refreshing to find one that knows the difference.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
[see our list of Relevant Issues of spiritual interest in this film]