Monday, 27 May 2013

Review - Sideways (2004 - Dir. Alexander Payne)

Sideways is a quirky, unpretentious alt-romantic comedy that sits comfortably alongside Garden State, Waitress and Lars and the Real Girl. It tells the story of two dysfunctional forty something fellows as they tear across Santa Barbara County for a week of riotous excitement including golf, fine food and wine tasting. Admittedly it’s not sounding that high on the hell raising Richter Scale, but it's both geeky and entertaining at the same time.

The success of the film relies on an excellent and often funny piece of scriptwriting. The story takes the form of a journey into the hopes, fears and inadequacies of our middle aged heroes as they tour vineyards as a last act of freedom before Jack’s impending wedding. It won’t change the world, but as a portrait of male midlife crisis, it hits the nail firmly on the head. There’s also some cracking pieces of humour involving motorcycle helmets, ostriches and breaking and entering.

The two lead characters manage to be obnoxious and loveable simultaneously, with Paul Giamatti suitably introverted and repressed as the wine loving divorcee Miles Raymond, and the legendary Thomas Haden Church (George of the Jungle!) resplendent as the rampant womanising actor Jack Cole. Virginia Madsen (Candyman) also deserves special mentions for her subtle and understated portrayal of upwardly mobile waitress Maya.

It’s not the standard Hollywood rom-com by any means. It’s darker, scuzzier and truer to life, but that only makes for a more engaging experience. Definitely worth ninety minutes of anyone’s time.

If you like this you could also try:
Any of the films mentioned in the review. Except Candyman. And George of the Jungle.

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