Sideways

11 Mar

Watching this film always makes me feel that it’s Sunday and the weather is good. I have seen it at least 10 times but find it difficult to put my finger on exactly why I love it so much. The story is basically that of two men setting off for the California wine country to enjoy a last week of freedom before one of them gets married. From the way they talk and interract, it’s clear they have been friends for many years but also that they are pulling in opposite directions. Needless to say, things get complicated and chaos ensues. With another director and cast, the result could have been totally different, becoming simply a buddy movie, sentimental or just a typical rom com. What makes it really work is that the characters are real flawed flesh and blood, played by actors whose faces are not frozen and who are not big stars. The leading men are middle aged with not much to show for their efforts; a failed actor and an aspiring writer with a depression problem.  The story treads the fine line between comedy and tragedy effortlessly, showing that both darkness and light are part of who we are. It’s a film for the senses; the gorgeous light that falls across the hills, the saturated colours that remind me of films from the 70s, the grapes that the characters see and touch, the wonderful jazz soundtrack and most of all the fine food and wine. It makes me long to go on my own road trip to sample the rich flavours of the region, despite the fact that I don’t have a driver’s licence.

My favourite scene is probably where Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen are sat out on the patio late at night and they talk about why they love wine. Madsen’s face is bathed in a golden light as she describes how she thinks about what the weather was like the year the grapes were being picked, the people that were there, how most of them must be dead if it’s an old wine and that wine is alive, changing in taste from day to day and then beginning to slowly decline. It’s a film about wanting to move on but being afraid to move forward  and like the pinot that Giamatti’s character loves so much, it lingers and improves over time with repeated viewings.

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2 Responses to “Sideways”

  1. Des March 11, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    This is one of my all-time favorite films. And the patio scene is also my favorite. It’s where he really reveals himself and she falls for him. Great selection.

  2. emilycinephile March 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Thanks Des, you always have great taste. I remember you once did a post on it as well. Makes me want to head for California right now.

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