Garden State

Garden State: In a state of confusion

It's been a hard day's night,
And I've been working like a dog,
It's been a hard day's night,
I should be sleeping like a log,
But when I get home to you,
I find the things that (we) do*,
Will make me feel alright

- The Beatles

*the things that (we) do = see a movie

It's great to come back home after a long day staring at a computer screen to stare at another screen. This time to watch a movie. Today's movie was last year's Sundance Festival hit - Garden State. Zach Braff stars in, directs and writes this slightly off-beat movie.

Andrew Largeman is returning to New Jersey after nine years, for his mother's funeral and tries to pick up the threads of his past life. He meets the gorgeous Natalie Portman at a psychiatrist's clinic and falls in love with her from the moment he puts on her headphones to listen to 'the song that will change your life' and - it does.
What has now become quite an avant-garde cliche - the movie is full of wide-angle lenses, scenes shot with the camera on the floor, time slows down, then speeds up after Zach takes the pill. To me, it was a poor imitation of the classic Trainspotting. The movie is quite sarcastic about life in general and Largeman(Zach Braff) numbly makes his way, oblivious to almost everything - thanks to a lifetime's use of lithium and other drugs. Now home and away from the kitchen cabinet of drugs he tries to feel and Portman shows the way. (I wish all girls, as good looking as Portman, fell in love so easily).

There is more dark comedy -
In one scene, he meets an old friend, who asks him how his good his policeman act was. Zach looks at him - the former junkie now turned cop and weakly smiles. It was hilarious. In the beginning, we see a lady angrily demand 'How come you don't have bread?' to which Zach replies '...this is a Vietnamese restaurant we don't serve bread, we serve noodles...'

The movie promises much but fails to deliver. The highly improbable story gets boring and then takes a much too familiar escape route of simply being cute and cliched in the end. Seems like Zach Braff started with one great idea and then clearly couldn't keep it up. Still worth the promising start and bearable middle, after that - stop watching and stare at a better screen before you are disappointed with the Garden State as it nosedives from dark comedy and satire into a chick-flick end.
Roger Ebert was quite kind compared to James Berardinelli's less than enthusiastic approval.

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