Sideways is not a film that everyone can appreciate, but it rewards those who do, or find the time to try.
It’s a dark comedy and a very meticulous film. The storyline doesn’t excel by itself, but the addition of the writing and growing humor does wonders. The film is about two men who are taking a wine drinking vacation — one to enjoy himself and be reckless, and the other to find himself, or another way of putting it, manage his midlife crisis. Main player Miles (Paul Giamatti), is a man who just can’t win and whose depression doesn’t seem like it will ever reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is an actor with a versatile devil-may-care success-flaunting attitude, and he ruins nearly all of his relationships throughout the movie, excluding Miles and the woman he marries. Maya (Virginia Madsen) is reserved, shy and into wine, like Miles, so naturally they hit it off. Stephanie (Sandra Oh) is laid back, but feral like Jack.
The main comedy of the film comes from two areas: one, the relationship between Miles and Jack and Mile’s sarcastic, irritable replies to Jack’s comments and actions and two, the wallet scene (which is brilliant writing) and accident scene, both of which Jack is ultimately reprehensible for.
Additionally, a couple of scenes from Mile’s opinions on wine and drunken behavior will surely make you howl with glee. The score is masterfully composed by Rolfe Kent, a man who finds perfect balance between the audio and visual aspects of film. Sideways is an unconventional and unorthodox comedy. It is disliked by many of the non-professionals of movie viewing, and beloved by the professionals of movie critique.
Why? Because it captures the hardships of adulthood—captures the mastery of wine knowledge and appreciation, and captures the depression of a man and channels that energy into the film.
Most people don’t appreciate the depressed atmosphere and they walk away disliking the film. The reason that is a mistake is because upon multiple viewings, this film blossoms from a skeptical and unfavorable piece to a bittersweet masterpiece (If given time, the way Miles gives time to analyzing his glasses of wine). This is a film worthy of belonging to a personal collection. Excellent cinematography, the script is extremely well written and jokes will eventually be realized with time. The overall comedy of the film is sophisticated, but should be appreciated because the film has such bliss and depressive beauty to it.
The ending, leaves you with the notion that Miles is on the verge of finding serenity, and does so with a touching score. After experiencing his journey, and what direction he’s headed in, it indeed puts everything in its right place.