Sideways

Not Recommended. These guys are good filmmakers. About Schmidt was brilliant. Election was naughty, but original. But this movie shows that the filmmaker’s humanism is quite frankly, morally inadequate for a fulfilling story. Miles, a depressed failed writer takes his best friend, Jack out for a week of wine tasting in Northern California before Jack’s wedding. It all goes down hill when Jack, being the shallow actor that he is, turns out to be a heat seeking sexaholic. He lacks any sense of faithfulness to a woman he is about to be married to. He will literally jump in the sack with any woman he can find, and does so a couple times. Well, that ain’t so bad for a topic of a movie if you deal with it right. After all, Miles, the hero, hates this infidelity, but he tolerates it in the name of friendship. In the mean time, he hooks up with Maya, thanks to jack’s help who tells Miles, “This is my nut. Don’t sabotage me. Have some fun.” So the whole story is about honesty and grabbing for the wine of life. In fact, there is one brilliant and touching scene where Jack and Maya tell each other about their favorite wines and they are clearly analogies of their own lives. Jack likes grapes that need to be tenderly and patiently handled and believed in their potential. Maya loves the process of wine being a gusto of reaching out and enjoying it all, etc. But this movie proves to be morally bankrupt for a couple reasons. I have no problem with a story about a guy who learns to deal with his unloyal friend IF the hero actually grows up or ultimately makes the right choice and finds redemption in walking away from such “so-called” friends. The point is that such friends are NOT friends, but users. That’s what honesty and loyalty stories are about. Problem is, Miles never does. He continues to aid and abet Jack in all his infidelities, all the while griping and complaining about how wrong it is. BUT THEN HE NEVER TELLS JACK’S FIANCE AND ALLOWS THE WEDDING TO GO ON. This is so morally pathetic that I lost all respect and sympathy for Miles. He is an idiot and a fool for staying with a man like that. He doesn’t even challenge this toad. And this is supposed to be a hero? The story hurts itself. The only redemption is that Miles has trouble going for Maya, and when she discovers Jack’s deception she breaks it off with Miles. Miles says, “I’m not Jack.” But of course, he is. If he never chooses to stand up to or divorce himself from this kind of lack of character, then he is in fact exactly the same. This comes from an obviously modernist humanist moral view that thinks loyalty to friendship is higher than the truth or morality. So, allowing the fiancé to be betrayed is somehow moral? I don’t think so. Jack is a creep and Miles never does the right thing. And Jack is supposed to just be this comedy relief, “isn’t that funny how shallow he is, but hey, they’re best friends.” No, he’s not. He’s a turd that should be flushed down the toilet of life. This makes Miles a repugnant undesirable hero, and that is why the story not satisfying. Furthermore, the actual redemption of the movie focuses on Miles going back to Maya at the end, as if all he really needed to do was to get the girl. Which makes the girl look pretty stupid to be willing to take back a man who never apologizes for partaking in such betrayal. And she complains about being betrayed before by her ex-husband, but she continues to choose moral losers like Miles? This is the problem, not the solution. This is her character flaw, not her redemption. But alas, this is the central conceit of humanism. It really thinks finding another human to love is the ultimate meaning of life, not truth or morality, which reflect higher values of character that make a person worthy of their humanity. Well, humanism doesn’t want to make moral judgments on things like infidelity or irresponsibility, or rather, it values loyalty to friends higher than loyalty to spouses, which is fundamentally inverted morality. But after all, humanism thinks there are no ultimate higher absolutes or God to which we are accountable. A humanist universe is ultimately relative morality and truth, so the love of another human becomes the God substitute, which explains this morally pathetic story.

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