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"Sideways"

I actually really enjoyed this film – the plot, such as it was, meandered around a fair bit, but the story telling was basically very gentle, and also very funny. I would have to add that it’s unnecessarily crude; full of swearing, nudity, and people in flagrante delicto (with not a lot left to the imagination), which did spoil the film for me.

The basic premise is that two middle-aged men – Miles (English teacher and would be author) and Jack (past-it actor) set off to vineyard land in California, ostensibly on Jack’s “stag week” to do some wine tasting and play golf. In reality Jack is looking to get “down and dirty” on one last fling before his wedding day at the end of the week – which comes as a surprise to Miles.

The film charts their ongoing relationship with one another, and with some local ladies – particularly Miles’ relationship with Maya (a local who he’s “loved from afar” for a while). The web of deceit is spun – mainly to Miles’ chagrin – and Jack gets his action, all to the backdrop of discussions about Pinot grapes. It is interesting to see just how easy Jack finds it to lie and pretend in order to get his way – and when his finace phones his reacted is more “what an inconvenience” then anything remotely approaching shame. In fact Jack’s apparant lack of conscience is breath-taking, especially played against Miles’ angst. That said, Miles’ behaviour is no better, but at least he feels bad about it.

The humour is wonderfully understated though – mainly playing on the ridiculous/ironic. Jack really is too stupid to be true – one of the funniest moments is when Jack has had to run 5k naked back to hotel room, including taking a shortcut through a field of ostriches. His comment: “They’re mean f*ckers.” The worst bit – probably the ending, which failed to resolve anything!

So on balance a good film, spoilt by unnecessary swearing and sex. While not really worthy of an 18 rating, it did seem to me to be beyond the boundary of a 15.

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