105 Must See Films

105 Must See Films: Sideways (2004)


Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen

Director: Alexander Payne

Jack (Church) and Miles (Giamatti), reaching middle age and facing their failed potential, decide on a boys weekend away in California wine country, ahead of Jacks wedding. On the trip they plan on drinking wine and relaxing, but each finds himself facing a future they’re not sure they’re excited about.

Though Jack is the one getting married, the film is really about Miles, a man who is easily overlooked, whose marriage has failed, who is not doing so well. Jack is more upbeat, more outgoing and more confident. Although the humour in the film rises from the fact that neither of them is particularly nice people, it’s a poignant film in that everyone feels like a failure sometimes, and at different points in our life, we have to face truths about our self that we might not like, like that face that we’re getting older, for example. And that love is not always easy to find.

It’s A Must See Because: this is the film that raised Giamatti from the supporting roles to the true appreciation of his ability to display a range of human emotions, as well as being a very comedic actor. The chemistry between the two leads is really good, and the way in which Payne has created a film which shows our human foibles, and perhaps the not so nice side of ourselves to us, as well as not growing old gracefully, in a way that’s kind of heart warming and funny. I know a lot of people who hate this film, because it’s about aging wine snobs, and other part who think it’s a masterful film for the way that it shows up our pretensions, and then skewers them to show us our vulnerability. Either way, the film is often subtle, and it’s the work of a master director getting unusual performances out of two actors not known previously, perhaps, for their range.

See It If: you like your comedy a little more grown up, or if you’ve ever felt like you might not be as successful as your dreams always told you you’d be.


11 thoughts on “105 Must See Films: Sideways (2004)”

  1. What I took from it is Miles is probably a good person but he hasn’t been lately. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface. That stuff about his father. When his mother asks him “Do you need any money?” is that because she knows he just grabbed some or is that painful irony of that moment. Her offering money he’s already stolen. An ex-wife he misses but cheated on. The list goes on. I love this film, maybe my favourite of the year. The killer moment of course is as Roger Ebert put it, Miles talks about wine and Virginia Madsen realises he’s describing himself and what she says next is absolutely wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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