Starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church,
Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh
Written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Directed by Alexander Payne
USA 2004
123 mins

The last two films we screened have dealt with marriage and divorce - our latest is set on the eve of a wedding and follows a bachelor road trip by the groom and his best friend in the wine country of northern California.

Miles and Jack were room mates at college, now in middle age. Miles is an English teacher and aspiring writer while Jack is an actor. With Jack about to be married the pair head off on a road trip to drink wine and maybe play some golf. But Miles discovers that Jack is looking for a last sexual adventure before he gets hitched - leading them both into trouble along the way.

Alexander Payne is one of the best directors working in American cinema today - his films 'Election' and 'Nebraska' have both been screened by the AFC in the past. He has a delightfully light touch with comedy and gets terrific performances from his cast. The script for 'Sideways' won him the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar - one of two that he has been awarded.

Paul Giammatti is brilliant as the tortured, unhappy Miles while Thomas Haden Church is a perfect foil as the fun-loving and chaotic Jack. There are great supporting turns too  from Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh.

'Sideways' is also a love poem to wine - Miles's often expressed hatred of Merlot went so far as to have an effect on wine sales in both the US and the UK - with Merlot sales declining after the film's release while his favoured variety Pinot consumption went up!

This deft comedy is a delight from start to finish - enjoy it's bittersweet taste and maybe wash it down with a glass or two of Pinot - or Merlot if you prefer...