Irish Film Institute -SIDEWAYS


Director: Alexander Payne

126 minutes, U.S.A., 2004, Colour, Dolby Digital Stereo, 35mm

Neatly dubbed by Village Voice magazine as ‘Days of Wine and Neuroses’, this road movie set in California’s vineyards charts a critical week in the life of two ex-college buddies sharing a mid-life crisis. Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a schoolteacher with aspirations to be a novelist; and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is a minor actor due to get married who wants a final fling at sexual freedom. While sampling the local wine (“quaffable, but far from transcendental,” opines Miles about one vintage), they meet two beautiful women (Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh) who might answer their needs. The leading players make a poignant and funny quartet, with the humour ranging from broad sexual slapstick to witty incidental detail, but perhaps the most touching scene is the one where Giamatti and Madsen, in talking about wine, find they are really talking about themselves. Obvious in conception, perhaps, Sideways is nevertheless elegant in execution and beautifully acted. It proved to be a breakthrough hit for Payne. (Notes by Neil Sinyard.)

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