Review 252: Garden State (2004)
I really enjoyed Wish I Was Here so I’ve wanted to check out Zach Braff’s other film. Garden State, written and directed by Braff, was very enjoyable. It’s definitely reminiscent of Wish I Was Here and I immediately enjoyed it. I give Garden State the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns home for his mother’s funeral. He’d been away from home for nine years and spends the days connecting with some old friends and one new one. He uses this time away from his life to really find himself.
Braff is joined by Ian Holm, Peter Sarsgaard, and Natalie Portman with a few others. The big connection in this film is with Sam (Portman) and Largeman. I love both characters and their quirky nature. Portman is becoming one of my favorite actresses this year after V for Vendetta and now this film. The chemistry the two have are extremely believable largely due to Portman. She seems so natural in this film playing a free spirit of sorts who is very in touch with her feelings.
The story of the film is interesting as we meet Largeman and see a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions. He seems to be just floating through life extremely detached. The film slowly starts to explain why all the meds and introduces a complicated story between him and his father (Holm). His father is also his therapist and has had him medicated for a long time. The story continues to unfold as Largeman goes off his meds for the first time in years. It’s not anything crazy and the film doesn’t really have an antagonist. However, It’s not that type of film. Instead it’s a character study and about the journey inward. Of course, there is the love story that also works very well in this film.
My last thoughts on Garden State
If you’re a fan of Braff’s then you’ve probably already seen this movie. I’m finding that I really like this personal character stories. Especially if the characters are interesting or sympathetic. I like quirky as I noted in my Wes Anderson reviews. It’s definitely a film I could see watching a few more times and really appreciating the performances.