Chasing Wine, Women, and Hope in 'Sideways'

'Spiritual Divorce' author Debbie Ford talks about soul-searching in the Oscar-nominated film.

Debbie FordDebbie Ford is the founder of the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching and a best-selling author whose books include "Spiritual Divorce" and "The Best Year of Your Life." She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Good Morning America, and has been featured in publications like O Magazine, Self Magazine, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times.

In "Sideways", two friends-Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) spend the week before Jack's wedding touring California wine country. Along the way Miles gets to know Maya (Virginia Madsen), and Jack gets acquainted with a woman other than his fiancée. [Spoiler alert: This interview reveals critical plot developments in the film.]

The trip Miles and Jack take is certainly about wine and women on one level, but can we also see it as a sort of spiritual pilgrimage?

I think it winds up that way. Miles starts out, it seems like, "in the lie": lying to his friend that they're driving straight through, and then stealing from his mother. But his time with Jack really gets him to see how ugly that path is. Miles sees the lies of his friend [who is cheating on his fiancée] and is ultimately so shocked and disgusted by them that he has a spiritual wake-up call. He sees what a life of no integrity looks like by watching Jack's behavior and realizes, You know what, I want something better for myself.


Sometimes we can't see our own selves, our own shortcomings, but it's so easy to see somebody else's.

Your books emphasize "conscious choice." Is that what Miles is learning to do here? At first, numbing himself through alcohol, he seems like a poster child for the opposite.

Yes, I think that that is exactly what happens. It's only when we are able to see our own behavior that we are able to wake up and start making conscious choices. When we're in the patterns of our past or in a pattern of self-destruction or numbing ourselves-whether it's from drinking wine or shopping or being on the Internet-it's very hard to make a conscious choice because you don't know the consequences of your behavior.

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