Credits: Directed by Zach Braff
Details: (M), 104 mins, United States, English
Synopsis: Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns to his New \'Garden State\' Jersey home for the funeral of his mother, after yet another phone call from his father (Ian Holm) whose calls he never returns. Andrew is a mid-range tv actor in Los Angeles these days, and on his return, his few old friends gather round. Until now, Andrew has been taking a vast array of lithium-based pills, prescribed by his psychiatrist father, since he was 9, when in a fit of frustration with his depressed mother, he gave her a shove, which sent her flying over the faulty door of the dishwasher and broke her neck. The pills have kept him in a state of emotional and intellectual limbo, and he takes a break from them for the funeral. Simultaneously, at a party with his friends, he meets Sam (Natalie Portman), whose offbeat personality and natural warmth give Andrew a new look at the joyous pains of life.
A terrific American indie film that make you fall in love with cinema all over again.
This is the first feature for writer/director/actor Zach Braff, and its one of those terrific American indie films that make you fall in love with cinema all over again. Set in New Jersey Garden State is a contemporary tale about a young man making peace with himself and his existence. Writer, director and star Braff proves that he is much more than a \'cool young thing\' from a cool young TV show. He plays Andrew Largeman, or \'Large\', a wannabe actor who journeys home to face the funeral of his disabled mother. Large hooks up with old friends, makes a new one, and, is trying to get off the anti-depressants that have made him sleepwalk through most of his life.
Garden State is littered with interesting characters and acutely crafted performances by a great cast that includes Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings) as Large\'s dispassionate father Gideon, a psychiatrist who keeps his son in \'tranqs\'. Peter Sarsgard (Boys Don?t Cry, Kinsey) is Mark, Large\'s now lapsed best friend from high school, a fellow who has lowered the bar of expectation in order to avoid disappointment. Then theres Natalie Portman (Anywhere But Here, Star Wars Eps I & II) who plays Sam, Large\'s possible new love-interest if he\'ll just surrender to it. Comedy actress Jean Smart (Snow Day) also makes a blinder of a cameo as Carol, Mark\'s laissez-faire, dope-smoking mum who can\'t quite understand why her grown up boy is such an under-achiever?
With its dark, ironic humour Garden State starts off like Hal Ashby\'s Harold and Maude (1971) but, surprisingly and wonderfully, ends up a full-blown dialogue driven drama, not unlike Richard Linklater\'s twin love-talk fests Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). Garden State is full of heart. It is a poetic, \'talkie\' filled with beautifully written scenes, perfect-imperfect characters and intense personal revelations. And it just keeps surprising - an authentic emotional honesty drives this film all the way as does its graceful cinematic style. (And a cool music soundtrack that includes The Shins) Such a gentle piece of work it is, Garden State spoke to me in a way that only a small handful of American films have of late, which makes me confident in saying that writer/director/actor Zach Braff is absolutely one to watch.
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