Actor Zach Braff put pen to paper and then proceeded to commit to film a haunting, lyrical valentine to uncertainty, loneliness, and confusion, interspersed with quirky humor. He plays Andrew Largeman, a medicated since childhood actor/waiter who travels from Los Angeles to his home state sans pills for the funeral of his mother. He reconnects with those he left nine years ago and meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a free-spirited (are there any other type in this kind of movie?) overtly hyper young woman who allows Large to awaken his senses and realize that life’s out there and to experience it can be a truly wonderful thing.
Natalie Portman and Zach Braff star in Garden State.
As a director, Braff uses all of the majesty that widescreen will allow. His camera is never flashy but instead complementary to the film. Good diverse songs from Coldplay, Thievery Corporation, Frou Frou, Simon & Garfunkel, and more are used to great effect and while they may seem intrusive to some, they were not to me.
Natalie Portman is breathtaking as Sam and while yes, the “like”s and the “man”s that pepper her conversation are a bit much at times, they luckily lessen throughout the film. Her character is yet another in a litany of achingly sweet, wonderfully witty muses that have streaked through arthouse fare as of late, but she’s a welcome addition. She provides a counter to Large’s disaffected attitude and is one of those people who we’d love to meet, if only they were real.
“Garden State” is a quiet little movie, one that hums along on its own charm and dreamy path. It presents a man who is taking his first tenative steps at being and finding it exhilarating and true. Zach Braff has established himself as an heir to Hal Ashby and I look forward to watching his next film. “Garden State” is one of the best movies of the year.
Head on over to MoveOn PAC at http://www.moveonpac.org to see the 18 new ads against Bush, featuring some of Hollywood’s best and brightest
Tonight I have Starsky and Hutch and Lars von Trier’s 1991 film Zentropa from work. I am eagerly anticipating seeing his latest film, the Nicole Kidman-starrer Dogville (http://www.dogvillemovie.com)
That’s all from me tonight, gang. I saw Napoleon Dynamite Monday night so I may just post a review of that in the very near future. Until then, good nite to all.