Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church (the teacher from Easy A) are best friends going on a kind of extended stag do thing, in which they take a tour of America’s vineyards, however while Paul wants to have a lovely relaxed weekend with lots of wine and chilling, Thomas wants to get laid one last time before he gets married. Sparks then fly.
When the blurb was described to me, I’ll be honest I wasn’t expecting loads, I mean it sounds nice and it was very warmly recommended but it was still a film about wine – something I know and care very little about – But within maybe three minutes I was completely won over. It is a lovely looking film, and the central relationship between the two main characters is a really interesting and engrossing one.
Sideways is one of those comedies that is more than just a bunch of laughs, sure there are plenty of laughs to be had, but it’s more a comedy of characters rather than a comedy of jokes. If that makes any sense at all. And it just grows and grows in humour as you get to know the characters more, and by the last third there are proper belly laughs to be had amongst the general chuckles that occur throughout. But it’s also more than just a comedy, in that it’s in parts a genuinely sad film. And actually it might be these sad moments that are the most poignant. Paul Giamatti’s awkward shy demeanour is central to this underlying sadness. As while the two main characters probably have very similar amounts of screen time, it’s been set up in a way as to make sure the audience roots for one of them more. For all the suave charm of Thomas Hayden Church’s character, his likeability is short-lived, but you never disengage even from his storyline.
I’m not really a wine drinker in that if I have a choice between drinking wine and not, I will choose not literally 100% of the time. So I was uneasy about watching a film in which the central hobby depicted was wine tasting, but you know what by the end of it, they had quite sold wine to me. Even if you couldn’t possibly care less about the red (and sometimes kind of clearish coloured) beverage, give it a couple of minutes watching these characters talk about it, and you will.
Overall, don’t be put off by the blurb, because the copy I was watching horrifically undersold it. It is brilliant, and you will love it.