Garden State (2004) is an indie movie about Andrew, a troubled young man returning to his hometown to attend his mothers funeral after being shut out by his family for more than a decade. His return coincides with his decision to stop taking his antidepressants after being dependent on them for the major part of his life. He happens to run into many of his childhood friends but also Sam, a like-minded and troubled woman he instantly connects with.
Having recently seen Zach Braff’s newer movie Wish I Was Here, it’s interesting to see how his directing skills have improved over the past ten years. While Garden State is an excellent emotional rollercoaster, it is not nearly as heartfelt and emotional as “Wish I Was Here”.
The movie has a lot going for it though with the fantastic soundtrack featuring among others The Shins1 and Frou Frou2, which for me personally adds another dimension for both the movie and songs since they have been a part of my playlists for a long time. The tone in the soundtrack fits perfectly with the general tone throughout the movie and acts as an emotional amplifier, which in a sense is what the movie is all about.
The acting is phenomenal as well, and while Zach Braff does an excellent job portraying Andrew in his usual style of being the shy and quiet one, Peter Sarsgaard does a great job portraying his friend Mark, one of those who remained in their hometown. The one who really steals the show though is Natalie Portman who plays the role of Samantha and portrays her character with a wide array of feelings and emotion while still feeling sincere and real.
Garden State could easily be seen as the defining movie of the mid-80s generation, similar to what Fight Club was for the late 70s and early 80s kids, and what The Graduate was for our parents’ generation.
Score: 7/10 (Good)