Sideways review

“… Only the most patient and nurturing growers can do it really, can tap into Pinot’s most fragile, delicate qualities. Only when someone has taken the time to truly understand its potential can Pinot be coaxed into its fullest expression. And when that happens, its flavours are the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling and ancient on the planet.”

Lights casting a soothing glow. Alcohol burning hot in their veins. Their eyes palpable but silent with attraction and yarning. In this perfect moment we finally see the tenderest of the entire film; each once lost, now Maya and Miles finally find themselves in this one beautiful speech. These few words also represent a rare moment where we get to see true joy and warmth expressed so unapologetically by Miles.

As Miles talks so passionately about Pinot, I can’t help but notice his words can be used directly to describe film itself. Because like Pinot, it takes a very patient and nurturing filmmaker to really tap into the most fragile and delicate stories, then be able to articulate them on film with the care they deserve and need. And for me Alexander Payne is one of the most patient and nurturing filmmakers working in Hollywood right now. He so easily creates these quirky characters filled with melancholy and pathos, but strangely you never fill sorry for them. Rather, Payne manages to weave in magically his personal brand of sharp wit and dark comedy, which makes you want to laugh and cheer them on with complete affinity and love. And in the characters of Miles and Jack above all others, you get the very definition of that.

With a novel yet to be published and a failed marriage for Miles (Paul Giamantti); an acting career going down the toilet and a pending marriage in front of Jack (Thomas Haden Church) – clearly both men find themselves in a bottle full of uncertainty and a whole barrow full of midlife crises. But while Miles choses to wallow, pity and drink himself silly over it, Jack choses to party like its 1999 all over again! Miles and Jack have been friends since college. But it seems the only reason they’ve remained friends for so long, could be because no one else can really stomach either man’s personal brand of annoying. Miles is constantly depressed and second guessing, while Jack is completely hedonistic and cares only about himself. Regardless both men decide to spend the week before Jack marriage to his wealthy girlfriend, traveling and immersing themselves in Mile’s truest passion and obsession – wine. But as far as they travel, Miles can’t help but agonise about his ex-wife and unpublished novel. Jack thus makes it his prerogative to find Miles a girl (who will become Maya), while he finds himself his own one last goodbye to singledom.

“I love how wine continues to evolve, how every time I open a bottle it’s going to taste different than if I had opened it on any other day. Because a bottle of wine is alive! Its constantly evolving and gaining complexity”.

Going back to my favourite scene of the film; the speech this time comes from Maya and again it’s about describing her love for wine. Rather this time her words sum up my views more specifically on Sideways – I’ve seen the film so often, I could easily hit pause on it and act out every last scene single handily and Oscar worthily. Sideways is like wine, it’s constantly evolving and every time I see it I learn and gain something different from it. I despise wine! However I can still tell you that Mallow is terrible and what it takes to grow a Pinot. But most importantly I learned that in life; work, jobs and careers may come and go, yet as long as you spend you days focusing on your passions and what you truly enjoy, all the success and money won’t be able to replace the happiness you feel when you follow your passion.


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