Whoever thought New Jersey was so depressing??
Having just weaned himself off antidepressants, Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff, who also directs) returns to his New Jersey hometown after a decade away to attend his mother’s funeral and slowly begins to see his life in a new light. In the process, he confronts his psychologist father (Ian Holm) and forges a connection with a new friend (Natalie Portman).
Garden State is one of those films, that all 20 somethings in today’s world have always quoted and loved. Hell even my best friend’s sister, danced with her husband, at her wedding, to a song from this movie. I never understood all of the freakin’ hype until now.
Zach Braff does a great job in his debut directing/writing job. There is a lot of insight in here about how wonderful, and grand life is, but yet, it’s so short, that you shouldn’t take it for granted, and live out every second of it. Many films I know, have this same message, but the way Braff shows it, and doesn’t over play it, that it stays fresh, and it actually hits you, especially by the end.
The film kind of annoyed me a bit with its quirky stuff, but at times I didn’t mind it. I did actually laugh at a lot of this, and made me realize that all of this may be how real people actually can be. There is a great sense of alienation that Braff feels with these people around him, and we feel that, not just through his character, but from the direction he puts the film in. I liked the soundtrack, and a lot of it fits in with the film and it’s moments so well.
Probably the best thing about Garden State and why it’s going to live on forever, is these characters that Braff creates. Yeah, their crazy, and yeah, their not all that believable. But, their lovable, and you can’t shy away from the fact that they entertain the hell out of you. Largeman is in Garden State for a couple of days, and it’s great to be on this ride with him, because the characters are fun, quirky, and overall, just downright hilarious. Zach Braff does a great job of making his character the biggest loner in the beginning of the film, and then having him totally change, and become this fun, free-loving dude. Braff goes way past his Scrubs days with this one. Natalie Portman plays one of the best characters she’s ever played since Closer, and that’s saying a lot. Her portrayal as a slightly neurotic, compulsive liar who’s wackiness becomes very disarming (not an easy task), is worthy of high praise, mostly because her and Braff are fun to watch on screen, and their chemistry doesn’t feel forced or anything, it’s genuine fondness of one another’s personalities. Ian Holm is also good here, as the father that still holds a lot against Braff, and he has a good scene. Peter Sarsgaard is as usual, good, and brings a lot to his character, as the grave-digger, who we always wonder if he should be trusted or not. Also, be on the look out for a random cameo from Method Man. Always great to see him in random ish.
Basically, Garden State is a great film for anybody who likes feel-good romantic dramedies. That hit the core of the heart the right way. It makes you think about life, as well as makes you laugh about it, and just possibly have you thinking differently about it.