Home | Sisters | Associates | Friars | Laity | Nuns | Link to Groups | World OP| DLC

Return to 2006 Films

Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)

Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment, embark on a week long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the altar.

In the early days of the Province, I wrote occasional reviews for Info of current films that I thought might be of interest to my fellow Dominicans. Recently, one of the members of the editorial board asked me to write again. So, I decided to give it another shot. One reason is that most of us like to talk about movies, and even use them as teaching and preaching resources. In addition, the wide availability of videos and DVD’s at libraries, stores, rental outlets, and on TV, usually just a few months after release, makes it easier to catch up with movies, even for those who no longer venture out to the theaters.

I’ll start off with a movie I’ve seen twice and can’t stop thinking about. Sideways is a wonderful comedy/drama that has been winning all kinds of awards, and has just been nominated for five Oscars, including best picture. Without a big budget, or big stars, it’s this year’s “little film” that has everyone talking. Sideways is the story of two old friends, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Hayden Church), who journey to the Wine Country of Santa Barbara, California, for a last fling before Jack’s wedding. Miles, a middle school literature teacher, is still grieving his recent divorce. He is also a frustrated writer, attempting to get his latest novel published. Furthermore, Miles fancies himself a wine connoisseur, with a special affection for Pinot Noir. He hopes the week away will consist of a lot of wine tasting and a little golf.

On the other hand, Jack has quite different plans. He wants to have a last fling before he settles down to marriage. (I’d hate to see his FOCCUS results!!) Jack also wants to help Miles find a nice woman to help him get over his divorce. Before long, they meet two women, Maya (Virginia Madsen), a recently divorced waitress, and Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a single mom who works at a winery. Jack and Stephanie waste no time become physically involved (naturally, Jack doesn’t mention his upcoming marriage), while Miles and Maya take their time. In a great scene, Miles and Maya tell each other how they became interested in wine. Without realizing it, they’re no longer talking about wine, but about themselves.

Sideways takes us inside these four deeply flawed characters. Despite their flaws, the audience is drawn to them, even the cheating, immature Jack. Miles becomes the focal character. Unlike Jack, there is hope that he can change from a man who steals money from his own mother early in the film, to someone who can learn from his mistakes. Even though Miles loses Maya, by the end of the film there is hope for reconciliation.

There is much humor in Sideways, flowing naturally from the characters and story, never seeming forced. Yet I was touched by a sense of sadness in the film. It’s a sadness that comes from looking back on one’s life and discovering the missed opportunities and the relationships that did not work. One of the most touching moments occurs when Miles sees his ex-wife and her new husband. Miles realizes that his replacement is a good man, and finds out that they are expecting a child. The face of actor Paul Giamatti tells the whole story: they have the relationship he wanted with his wife, but was not capable of. It’s a quietly devastating moment.

I don’t know if a young person could appreciate Sideways. I think you need to have felt the disappointments, the sadness, and acknowledge the sin in what we have done and what we have failed to do. Yet there is the hope that grace will touch our lives and we can be redeemed. Like Miles and Maya, it’s not too late for self-knowledge, growth, and even a second chance.

Sideways is beautifully written and acted. After many big-budget movies with big stars and special effects have come and gone, the memory of the very human characters of Sideways will still be with me.

Home | Contact Us | DLC
Dominican Life | USA is sponsored by the Dominican Leadership Conference,
the networking organization for elected leaders in the USA.
Dominican Life | USA © 2002-
2007, All Rights Reserved
Web Editor: Anne Lythgoe, OP

Subscribe to DomLife.org and get a free email update every two weeks.