Wine, Restlessness, and the Longing for ‘Home’Posted: September 26, 2014
During a recent bout of insomnia I was channel-surfing and found the movie, ‘Sideways’ was just beginning, so I put the remote down, thinking this is a movie I’ve seen bits and parts of through the years (it debuted in 2004) and it felt ‘comfortable’ and would help me to fall asleep.
It didn’t turn out that way.
Maybe it was because this was the first time I caught the movie at the beginning, but it kept my attention into the wee hours of the night.
The protagonists of the movie are Miles and Jack, two friends approaching middle-age who were roommates in college who take a week-long trip to the picturesque wine country around Buellton, California (about 2 hours north of Los Angeles) before Jack gets married the following week.
Miles (Paul Giamatti) is knowledgeable about wine and is an aspiring author who pays the bills as a junior-high school English teacher. Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is clueless about wine and is an actor who once had a big part in a popular soap opera but now does mostly small-time bits like voice-overs and commercials.
Miles is neurotic and depressed because of the divorce from his wife two years ago and her remarriage to another man. Jack is a simple, happy-go-lucky man and also a womanizer who announces to Miles he’s going to “get laid” on the trip before he marries his fiancée back in Los Angeles (Jack harbors doubts if getting married is for him or not).
A big part of the charm of ‘Sideways’ is the completely different personalities of Miles and Jack and how they interact with one/another. They couldn’t be two more different men, yet they are good friends.
This scene encapsulate Miles and Jack:
Later, Miles and Jack meet up with two local women, Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh) where they have dinner at an upscale restaurant then go back to Stephanie’s place where Miles and Maya pair off and talk while Jack and Stephanie retire to Stephanie’s bedroom for wild sex.
Maya asks Miles about his ‘thing’ for Pinot Noir wine and Miles the author waxes eloquent:
Maya responds by talking movingly about ‘The life of wine’, and the scene ends on an awkward note, with Miles withdrawing from Maya:
Miles, Jack, Maya, and Stephanie are all looking to have their deepest desires fulfilled in ways humanity typically does, through career and relationship experiences that are meaningful to them.
As the movie proceeded in its alternately deep and comedic moments, it was apparent that what they were all restlessly looking for was a sense of comfort, a sense of peace, a sense of belonging, a sense of utter fulfillment that was perceptible and yet elusive.
Noted author and pastor Tim Keller would say they were expressing ‘The longing for home’, or as St. Augustine put it, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
This is the heart of the matter and the ultimate problem we humans face is that we look for ultimate fulfillment in things that were not designed to provide it.
Sex, money, power, relationships, notoriety, position, achievement – all of these things are not per se bad or evil, but people find out sooner or later that these things don’t provide the ultimate peace or sense of belonging and home we’re all restlessly looking for but find so hard to find and experience.
Fortunately, there’s something (or more accurately, someone) who can bear the full weight of your soul and give you the sense of home you’re looking for: