October 24, 2016 5 min to read

Garden State (2004) Review – Inspirational Movie Monday.

Category : Uncategorized

“Good luck exploring the infinite abyss”

I discovered Garden State one afternoon at Blockbuster. I had only heard about it in passing, only that it was a really good movie. Well-written and well-acted. To my surprise after watching it, I loved this film. I thought exactly that, it was extremely well made and well written. It definitely put Zach Braff on my to watch list, anything that he’s done really I have enjoyed on one level or another, but I truly think this movie is probably his best.

This movie taught me to be yourself no matter how weird you think you are, or to not care how others view you and just be yourself always. It also taught me that sometimes under extremely different circumstances or ending up doing something you don’t really want to do could end up changing your life. Whenever I feel a shift in life happening, I’ll watch this movie just to reassure myself that things are on a track and it’s life still.

Garden State is a Comedy, Drama, Romance film. The film follows a quietly troubled young man who returns home for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

Garden State is written, directed and stars Zach Braff, in his directorial and writing feature length movie debut. Zach Braff’s acting filmography includes Scrubs (2001-2010), Chicken Little (2005), The Last Kiss (2006), Wish I Was Here (2014) and In Dubious Battle (2016). For never directing or writing a script before, Braff flexes extreme creativity. His characters are all unique and flawed in one way or another, but you can’t help to love what he created. It’s surprising really, usually it takes years to be able to develop your craft in order to make every character unique, but there’s just something about Braff’s way of doing things, that makes it all look easy. His directing his always superb, he has a brilliant use of camera technique and cinematography, I was super impressed with the technical aspect of this film.

On the other side of the camera, Zach Braff always stars in his movie in the role of Andrew Largeman. I think he did a great job in this movie, he was extremely relatable and he played the part very well. He went from being a very troubled person to slowly being normal, which I think is a nice character arc. I can also relate to this, sometimes when your brain takes over you’re a completely different person, but when your brain finally slows down and the mental anguish stops, you can then become normal again. I felt like this was portrayed in Braff’s acting.

The film also stars Natalie Portman as Sam. Her filmography includes Leon: The Professional (1994), Heat (1995), Mars Attacks! (1996), Star Wars Prequels (1999-2005), Closer (2004), V For Vendetta (2005), Brothers (2009), and Black Swan (2010),  She was lovely in this movie, although its definitely not for everyone as I found out after trying to get my best friend Victoria to watch, as she thought she was really annoying. I thought she did a great job in this however, she was weird but aren’t we all a little weird? the only people who seem normal are the ones we don’t know well.

Peter Sarsgaard stars in this movie too as Mark. His other roles consist of Dead Man Walking (1995), Jarhead (2005), The Skeleton Key (2005), Orphan (2009), An Education (2009), Knight and Day (2010), Blue Jasmine (2013), The Killing – TV Series (2011-2014), Black Mass (2015) and The Magnificent Seven (2016). This was my first introduction to Sarsgaard, and I thought he did a good job in this movie.

Lastly the great Ian Holm is in this movie, as Gideon Largeman (Andrew’s father), which is a role very different than his role’s in other films. His filmography includes such films as – Alien (1979), Time Bandits (1981), Chariots of Fire (1981), Naked Lunch (19991), The Filth Element (1997), The Lord Of The Rings Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers(2001 & 2003), and The Day After Tomorrow (2004). It was great to see him in a fatherly role and he played it so well. I think each actor in this movie really took their characters and made them their own, each character as I stated before is flawed and unique. I think they took their flaws and really shaped it and moulded it to be their own.

With each characters flaws, we as a member of the audience can really put ourselves in the characters shoes, and we can feel what they feel, and maybe find solace in the fact that we don’t really feel alone.

As always, the soundtrack deserves to be recognized. Each song in this movie was hand picked by Zach Braff, and it adds a personal touch to it. It’s a wonderful soundtrack, that I remember fondly. It was always in this movie where I was introduced to The Shins and really enjoyed their music. Each musical choice in the film fit perfectly, and there are still times now, 12 years later where i’ll find myself actually listening to the soundtrack. Its definitely lovely and definitely a big part of why I like this movie.

The comedy in this movie is actually really well done, and its well written. There are genuine moments of laughter and it doesn’t seem forced. I think Braff did a very good job at mixing these moments of comedy in with the drama.

My negatives in this movie come in the pacing issues. There are some parts of the film that I didn’t think that needed to be in there, and there are other scenes or elements of the film that I felt went on a little too long. Maybe I’m just too critical, but thats only a small hiccup in a really great movie.

This is a film I quote a lot, theres just so many good lines that I can apply to my own life. I think thats why this film has stuck with me for so many years, yes its a lovely film and yes I do love it, but its the way its written and the way that these lines are delivered that’ll stick with you.

If you’re ever feeling in a weird place and feeling stuck, this movie is for you. Thats usually when I watch it, if i’m feeling that way. Or if I’m in the mood for just a really good movie.

This movie is one of my favourite films, Its unique, its original and its well made.

I give Garden State a 4/5.

See You Next Monday, Stay Inspired!

-Andrew

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