The Harg (crummywatertowr) wrote in reviewsrhere,
The Harg


There is a common misconception with movie goers that you have to like the characters in the movie to like the movie. The best example I can prove that misconception wrong is Gone With the Wind, in which truly none of the major characters is someone we would to have as a friend. To like a movie, you have to like the story, but more importantly you have to like the way the story is being told.

Sideways is another perfect example to prove this concept wrong. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church play to selfish, shallow, and narcissistic characters named Miles and Jack. Miles is a born loser, who teaches 8th grade english, loves wines, and is a "failed" writer. (Exchange wine for movies and his character really hits close to home.) Jack is a washed up movie actor who know reads the 5.8% financing on commercials and lets his "instinct" determine his life. Jack is getting married in a week, so Miles plans a wine tasting trip for one final hurrah.

Jack wants to have as much sex as possible to forget he is getting married. Miles wants to have has much wine as possible to forget he ever was married. Along the way, Jack finds out what he truly needs; Miles finds himself.

While not necessarily a comedy, this does have some laugh out moments. My favorite was when Miles is contemplating suicide but can't go through with it for unlike Plath, Sexton, and Hemingway he hasn't been published. Jack, trying to cheer up his friend, replies, "What about the guy who wrote 'A Confederacy of Dunces'? He was published after he committed suicide and look how big he his now." Giamatti's glare at church was worth the price of admission.

Miles does meet someone who is perfect for him, Maya, played with a pure heart by Virginia Madsen. She is perfect for Miles, so therefore he will screw it up. Giamatti, a pure misanthrope of the movie, carefully articulates a change in his characters outlook on life. He does it by doing small things such as running into a married couples bedroom -- while they are having sex -- to retrieve Jack's wallet. (Why the wallet is there explains Jack's character.) He does it by letting Jack wreck his car. Giamatti takes an unlikable character and without fully changing him makes you hope he can change. Church here is all id doing everything based on his drives -- sex, drinking, sex, food, sex. But he delivers every line not for laughs but as if it were exactly what he is thinking making it even funnier. Along with Million Dollar Baby, this is one great triangle of performances.

Alexander Payne (Election) does a masterful job here. Every scene looks great and sounds right. Each character has their own way of talking (instead of all sounding like the screenwriter). He also catches the wine fields beautifully. He also incorporates the musical score, a jazzy Manci-like piece, seamlessly into the movie.

His best scene is one in which Maya and Miles tell each other how much they love wine and why. The dialogue, while ever word is about wine, is more about the love of life and about who each person truly is. It's the kind of scene that can make the most hard-hearted person believe that they can change into someone good, into someone worth loving. Words, they have a power. As said by these two actors in this great little film, it was the most poweful dialogue I have heard in a long time.

Grade: A+
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