one of the better films of 2004 because of its strong characterization and balance of comedy and drama. one telling characterization was what giamatti titled his book: the day after yesterday. when madsen hears this she says “you mean today.” and giamatti reluctantly says “yeah.” this is a crucial moment because he views everything in the context of its relation to the past and she has a more immediate world view, a more healthy one as well. in this same conversation they have a thinly veiled conversation about wine and what it means to each – he likes pinot because it’s a thin-skinned grape which requires constant care and just the right conditions to thrive. she likes wine because it’s a time capsule, but a living one. it’s an artistic capturing of a time – the laborers, the weather, the grapes, the tastes of the time, etc., but it evolves with time and eventually peaks, like giamatti’s 1961 bottle of wine. again their differences become clear over this – giamatti says he’s waiting for the right occasion to open the bottle and madsen says that opening the bottle is the occasion. her philosophy is one of seizing life and his is one of waiting for it to come to him. in the end, he reverses this trend.
the dynamic between giamatti and church is reminiscent of planes trains and automobiles; and both are very good in their roles. it’s smartly written, but never pompous. the characters are well drawn and well-acted, but never above the audience. one telling moment is when they’re watching a highfalutin lecture on the wine making process and sandra oh turns to madsen and rolls her eyes and give a tired look. the four of them then proceed to the back room where oh and church make out and madsen and giamatti get to know each other better. they’re children, all of them, but they’re grown. they’re all flawed, but they remain likable.