Garden State (2004)

garden_stateIf the only thing that keeps you going is your faith and you no longer know what you believe in or have stopped believing in anything anymore then you must feel quite lost and life may bear no meaning. “Garden State” is about twenty-six-year-old Andrew “Large” Largeman (Zach Braff) who is so numb and void of emotions that he has literally detached himself from everything and everyone around him.
When we zoom in on him in the beginning of the movie, he is lying in a white room in a white bed and he looks so pale, he might as well be already dead.
Together with Braff the viewer goes on a journey of awakening, of rediscovering life, of experiencing emotions, honest and heartfelt emotions.

“Garden State” is a slow movie with lots of dialogue and according to Mr. “this scene was a lot longer” Braff it would have been even slower without a lot of cutting (as the “Deleted Scenes” confirm). Slow is good. It fits the mood of the movie. Life is rushing by and Largeman is missing all of it wishing for his life to finally start. As one life ends – his mother dies – another life is about to change. Now this may sound like this movie is going to be a depressing drama, I can assure you it isn’t. The overall tone of the movie is lighthearted with lots of funny moments that might not make you laugh but they will make you smile.

“Large” is returning to his hometown after nine years for his mother’s funeral and slowly and gradually goes through the process of awakening, accelerated by the chance meeting with Sam (Portman). There is some really nice chemistry going on between the Braff and Portman that it is just fun to watch. Natalie probably will wince now but Sam really is one hell of a cutie although the hat was a bit much. All in all there are no real bad performances throughout the movie and even the support roles are spot on.

Speaking of chemistry I would also like to mention one of my all time favorite actors Ian Holm who is playing Largeman’s father. The scene where Largeman touches his father’s chest and where they do their long overdue “talk” just shows how much emotion Holm can put into a scene without saying anything.

As you might have already guessed, there are no dazzling special effects nor are there any mind boggling action scenes in this movie. “Garden State” does have its share of clichés but that does not interfere with the honesty of emotions this movie has to offer. After all, it is a movie about real people to whom we all can relate and maybe even identify with in some cases.

Without revealing too much about the story, I found it interesting to know that many bits and pieces are taken from real life references, e.g. the necklace of Largeman’s mother or the “suicide room” and while “Garden State” is no biographical movie, it still shows that the most interesting stories are written by life itself.
The only problem people might have with “Garden State” is its happy ending but then again, who doesn’t like a good mix of real life and fairy tale every now and then?

Reading the back cover’s verdict that this movie is the “seminal film for today’s generation” I cannot quite agree since I do not want to limit it to one generation or period of time. “Garden State” is about finding your purpose in life and embracing life, regardless of age.

Favorite Quote:

Large: Hey Albert? Good luck exploring the infinite abyss.
Albert: Thanks. Hey, you too.

8/10

» read the full DVD review over at eyecravedvd.com.

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