Some good things take a little extra time and effort to truly enjoy. Sideways, the terrific new film directed by Alexander Payne (based on the novel by Rex Pickett) is one of those good things. Not that it isn't immediately enjoyable on its surface; Sideways has a cracking good script and some of the finest, funniest performances I've seen on film all year.
But like the wines the characters savor within it, the film itself has subtle charms and notes that only reveal themselves upon greater (and quieter) reflection. My writing partner and I laughed pretty much non-stop through an extended sequence where the two main characters, one-time college roommates who are making a pre-wedding pilgrimage to Santa Barbara wine country, make a detour to the best man's mother's house. But it was only after the movie, or at least well into viewing it, that we realized how remarkable it was that we cared so much about two characters who are, on the face of things, pretty darned despicable.
I won't spoil the film by going into detail. I'm not even sure whether details are the best way to sell someone on this really beautifully crafted gem of a story. I think the most remarkable feature about Sideways is its reality: it pretty perfectly creates a world and then does an amazing job of drawing you in.
Hmmm...no wonder the communicatrix loves it.
- [UPDATE] My review of Sideways, the novel