Paul Giamatti
Thomas Haden Church
Virginia Madsen
Sandra Oh
Marylouise Burke
Jessica Hecht
Missy Doty
M.C. Gainey
Alysia Reiner

Alexander Payne

"I'm trying to get you laid, I'd appreciate a little help!"
Time: 123 mins.
Rating: R
Official Website
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

Won Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Madsen), Supporting Actor (Church), Director and Best Picture.
Alexander Payne does something here I never thought possible: he makes a movie about wine that is not only highly entertaining, but that illuminates the joy, inspiration and fascination this acclaimed beverage brings out in those who live to study it. As serious as it occasionally takes the subject of wine appreciation, SIDEWAYS is mostly a comedy about love, life and learning to accept who you really are. The setting – Santa Barbaraís wine country – merely fuels the foibles of the filmís dynamic duo: Miles (Giamatti), a schoolteacher trying desperately to become a novelist and forget his failed marriage and Jack (Church), his old college roommate, a has-been actor, whoís intent on sowing his oats before he locks himself into wedded bliss. How these two managed to stay friends is a mystery since the only thing they have in common is their intrinsic unhappiness with their current lots in life.

By bringing his once famous friend to the wine country, Miles gets to be the powerful one for once, showing off his connections and wine knowledge to his neophyte friend. What he quickly learns, to his great disappointment, is the only thing Jack cares about when it comes to wine is that itís wet and alcoholic and that this trip is to get him laid, not expand his palate. Jackís boyish charm soon lands him in the arms of a local wine cutie (Oh) much to Milesí outrage and chagrin. However, this budding romance gives Miles the opportunity to spend time with Maya (Madsen), a local waitress with a discerning palate who actually seems to find him attractive. Miles hates to lie to the ladies, but his unceasing loneliness wears down his better judgment and he eventually goes along with Jackís charade. Unfortunately for Jack, Miles is a terrible lair and his churning emotions eventually turn the good times into a debacle of deceit, heartbreak and utter insanity you have to see to believe.

Despite the occasional craziness of the plot, this is a simple film about a man in the prime of his life, who he has nothing to show for his years of struggle and a future that looks just as bleak. Giamatti gives a brilliant performance thatís full of truth, humor and humanity. Miles is the soul of this film and how Giamatti was overlooked by the Academy for this role is a mystery. Hayden Church is the spark that drives the story – his performance is also a real gem – but itís Milesí silent suffering that catches your heart and refuses to let go. In one of the filmís best scenes, he and Maya trade their views on why they love wine, while actually revealing their philosophy of life and how they see themselves. Itís a quiet, powerful, naked moment that leaves both of them and the audience breathless. Payne brings his honest touch for true emotion to the table, turning this supposedly raucous road picture into an adventure of self-discovery that everyone can relate to. Like a good wine, more layers are revealed upon subsequent viewings. Even if youíre not into wine, SIDEWAYS is a real treat for those looking for a fun, intelligent, adult movie.