I’m not afraid to say that I love Paul Giamatti. Of course, I also love Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh and Thomas Haden Church. Why do I love these people? I love them because they are all in my new favorite movie of the year, “Sideways.” I know, the year is almost over and to declare a new favorite at this point is a little silly but still, here I am.
“Sideways” tells the story of wine-lover, High-School English teacher and failed writer Miles (played perfectly by the gifted Giamatti) who takes his buddy, former hot tv actor Jack (the never-better Haden Church) up to wine country for Jack’s last weekend of freedom before he gets married.
There they explore the nature of their failures and question their relationships. Jack has an affair and wonders whether he should call it off. Miles, recently divorced, questions whether or not he made the right choice in getting a divorce, being a writer and just about everything else in his life.
Put these actors and this simple yet touching story together with inspired direction by Alexander Payne (of “Election” and “About Schmidt”) who gets everything right and snappy, poignant writing by Payne and Jim Taylor and you have a mix as good as the best wine you have ever tasted.
I can’t lavish enough praise on this film. It was truly one of the most inspiring times I have had at the movies in some time. The cast is flawless and reaches new heights of nuance and feeling that most actors would kill for. One scene in particular makes the movie for me. Miles explains his love of Pinot Noir and has passion and feeling reveals that he’s not really talking about Pinot Noir, he’s talking about himself.
Virgina Madsen’s work in this scene is also fantastic and shows a range that she has not displayed before. This is a dream cast who make the most of their breakout roles. How many other adjectives can I use to describe the film? Many more. The best thing to do, though, is to go out and see the film and enjoy its many pleasures for yourself.
I don’t know if its too early to call it a “classic”. I hesitate to use that word. If it isn’t one now, it comes as close as you can get. In a few years, after it has aged a bit, who knows? I, for one, can’t wait to open that bottle.