Wednesday, February 23, 2005


(With this movie, I've completed my essential viewing of all the Best Picture Nominees for the 77th Annual Academy Awards, and this review is one the most personal I've written)

Wine lovers unite! There isn't, in my recent memory, a show that celebrates wine, vineyards and grapes, like this one does. Scattered throughout as part of the narrative are so many wine terms, vintage bottles, and wine tasting, that the amateur me can find hard to grasp. Fear not though, as this show can still grow on you.

We follow the road trip of 2 best buddies Miles and Jack, for a week, down to the Californian vineyards, before Jack's marriage when he gets back. Kinda like an extended bachelor's party, Miles' idea of fun - that being long sessions of male bonding over wine tasting sessions, rounds of golf, and more drinks over night time chill out hours. However, Jack has a different idea of fun - that of having final flings and sowing his wild oats before committing himself to marriage.

So while we see clash of ideas and mindsets, their strong friendship enables them to compromise and help each other during the various scenarios they encounter in their road trip. Essentially, this movie is also about relationships - that between the 2 buddies, that between Jack and his "fling" Stephanie, who of course he didn't tell that he's getting married once the week is over, and that between Miles and Maya.

Which led me to identify with the 2 main male leads. Jack, the once famous soap opera actor, lives his life by his instinct. He goes with his gut and impulse, and enjoys a good time. My friends can probably identify this part of me, the go-getter, the thrill-seeker. However, this can sometimes lead you to sticky situations, and you'll require your best buddies to bail you out of the rut. Many hilarious moments arise from Jack's desperation in getting laid, in getting Miles laid as well, and his deception towards both his wife-to-be, and Stephanie. Unless he's decapitated, he'll never learn his lesson, and would still want to go for the final "kill" - the final scene of trouble that he gets into, is one of the best in the movie.

Closer friends will probably see me in Miles, the struggling writer, who still harbours feelings for his ex (wife that is). He goes into a frenzy when Jack tells him his ex-wife has already re-married. He is chronically depressed, that he screwed up his own marriage. To make things worse, Jack has invited Miles' ex-wife and new husband to his wedding ceremony, which led to Jack wanting to back out of attending, well, almost, to avoid meeting the couple. Jack's advice to Miles is to move on, and he will help him do so. However, Miles just refuses to accept the fact, and allows depression to slowly creep into all other aspects of his life, severely affecting his confidence and attitude. Until of course, he meets Maya, and starts to seriously think about starting afresh.

Despite the slow introduction of about 10 minutes, the show picks up pace once Miles and Jack hit the road. The down-to-earthness characters and dialogue will draw you into the movie, though some in the audience might think that the ending has left them hanging. A word of caution - in my opinion, it's deliberately done so, for YOU to decide what kinda ending YOU would prefer, and that will depend on whether you're a Jack, or a Miles kinda person.

Don't let this underdog movie (amongst the other heavyweight Oscar nominees) slip by, go catch it in a theatre near you!

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