Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Movie Review: Garden State

Life is this moment -- what are we going to do? Too often we live in the past or the future, neglecting the present moment and the fact that it is now that we live and make decisions. This is the message of Zach Braff's debut movie Garden State for which he wrote, directs, and acts in a poignant romantic comedy. Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) is called back to his home town for his mother's funeral. He has been on antidepressants for many years which were prescribed by his psychiatrist father (Ian Homes). He has become numb emotionally. He takes his return home as an opportunity to discontinue his medication. As he meets his friends of former years he feels disconnected from the idiosyncratic characters. Then he meets the crazy Sam, played brilliantly by Natalie Portman, who changes his life in a matter of days. This is a wonderfully quirky film with some genuinely funny moments along with some scenes of deep emotional pain. Braff affirms the value of living fully in the present moment and experiencing it rather than shielding ourselves from emotional pain. It's great to see a movie that takes risks and avoids most of the cliches of Hollywood. I say most because, disappointingly, the end of the movie collapses in an over-romanticised finale. Apart from that, a warm, funny movie with a sting in its tail. My Rating ***1/2 out of 5 Best Review 'a seductive, genuine, and ultimately heartbreaking comedy' - Peter Debruge/Premier Worst Review 'Say this for actors: Too self-centered to be embarrassed, they can be existential heroes of a (moronic) sort.' - David Edelstein/Slate Rating Information language, drug use and a scene of sexuality

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