Originally published on on October 2009

The original US version of Sideways (2004) was a charming film with a tour-de-force performance by the inimitable Paul Giamatti. This begs the question: why redo it? Although that query hangs in the air with all remakes, this fish-out-of-water tale is actually a pretty good film. Scriptwriting teacher and aspiring TV writer Michio (Fumiyo Kohinata) returns to California, where he had studied for a few years, to celebrate with his soon-to-be-married best friend Daisuke (Katsuhisa Namase). Rerouting a trip that the horny Daisuke wanted to take to Las Vegas, the pair end up in Napa Valley, where they come across Mayuko (Kyoka Suzuki), a woman Michio had a crush on, and her Japanese-American friend Mina (Rinko Kikuchi). The story more or less follows the original, with the added angle of two characters trying to decide whether they should return to Japan or not. Though we know all the dramatic landmarks, the new Sideways somehow still works. (109 min)