Sideways is about the ups and downs of life. We all experience moments of joy, sadness, and anger, all of which make us human. We also make choices every day, some good and some bad. And then there are things that happen to us that we cannot control but can only accept. All of this makes life a tortuous journey that seems to have no destination. At times, things seem certain, but they can be turned upside-down later. Good times may end, but so do bad ones. All we can do is experience life as it happens at the moment.
The story involves Miles (Paul Giamatti), a middle-school English teacher and aspiring writer, and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), a television actor. They are friends who have their own midlife crises. Miles has been divorced for a while and also desperately hopes his book would finally get published. Jack, on the other hand, is getting married a week later and wants to celebrate his final days of freedom. Fortunately, they come up with a possible solution.
They take a road trip across California, stopping by various wineries to taste their various creations. They also play golf, dine out, and look for women. This is when they meet Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress working to get a Master’s degree, and Stephanie (Sandra Oh), who works at one of the wineries they stop at. When all four of them have dinner at a restaurant, the bonds are immediately formed. Miles and Maya become close as do Jack and Stephanie.
Despite the thrills of newly formed romance, Miles and Jack realize they’re not entirely happy. Miles still thinks about his ex-wife and what she might be doing at the moment. Jack almost completely disregards his upcoming wedding. These problems lead to even more problems. This is where all four actors shine. Their performances show enough realism to feel for them. However, it’s not just that. We feel for these characters simply because they are just like us. We, too, have our emotional moments in life.
I also like the film for its location. As a California native myself, it was nice to see a place I call home. The wine country is just beautiful and so is the weather, during both day and night. It is just the kind of place to go when you want to look for the pleasures of life and get away from your troubles. If you want to search for meaning in your life, it seems to help with that, too. Basically, it’s the perfect backdrop for the story in this film.
The film is great despite how simple it is. There is nothing out of the ordinary about the drama that the characters go through. That’s why I could relate to the film rather easily. To me, you only need two things to have a film: memorable characters to see and a theme to ponder on. Sideways definitely has both elements. The main cast was chosen well, as illustrated by how well they explore the theme about life’s moments and uncertainties.
It all leads to a nice message that I now take to heart. Sometimes, your life may take a sideways turn, but no matter what happens, you can never stop hoping for the best.
Anthony’s Rating: 9/10