Garden State

1574 Words7 Pages
Garden State by 'Pipsorcle' Andrew Largeman's (Zack Braff) journey throughout "Garden State" seems to be a testament on the meaning of liberation. Going from his struggling acting life in Los Angeles to his hometown in New Jersey, where he witnesses his mother's funeral, Andrew is in the mist of confronting difficult issues. One of the biggest issues is coming to terms with his psychologist father (Ian Holm), whom he has distanced himself from for many years because he has put him on powerful antidepressants for most of his life. The reason for this I will not reveal but it has caused Andrew to feel as if his father has controlled his life in a way. In showing how Andrew Largeman finds himself again, "Garden State" makes a good choice in putting him in every one of its scenes. Since this film is really about Largeman, because he is in every scene, we see a progression in his character as time goes on. At the beginning, we sense that Andrew feels rather numb and alienated but then as the film progresses, he becomes more energetic and liberated. This gradual change in his character is highlighted clearly in the cinematography, a key method in showing Andrew's psychological state. For a directorial debut, I must say Zack Braff has given me a completely different impression than from his regular role in the "Scrubs" TV series. One might think that for a directorial debut coming from a TV actor would be uneven and at best, formulaic and uninspired. That's not the case here with "Garden State." Braff shows he knows how to handle directing and storytelling yet at the same time, showing a vision that clearly establishes himself as an auteur. Examples of this are the tense moments when Andrew is around his father. A lesser film would go for theatrics and end up being very talky in dialogue, but instead, Andrew and his father's moments together are more subtle. Whenever we see both of them together, they talk but when they talk, their relationship is forced. There's a sense of silence at times, which shows they feel uncomfortable seeing each other after the lack of good communication for about a decade. Of course, one might think that from the way I'm describing "Garden State" so far, the film is on the more serious side. It's actually more funny than serious but even describing the film as a comedy wouldn't do ju... ... middle of paper ... ... selling his invention of soundless Velcro and now trundles down the corridors of his unfurnished McMansion in a golf cart. Another buddy, Mark (Peter Sarsgaard), sells jewelry he acquires in a highly unusual manner. Braff also writes simple yet refreshing dialogue, with plenty of offbeat humor, yet none of it is strained, nothing is played self-consciously for laughs. Braff himself has a warm, easy-to-watch screen presence. He can say nothing during the lull in a conversation, while the camera remains focused on his face, and it feels right. Portman and Sarsgaard are also genuine, each wonderfully relaxed in their roles. Production design is superb: details in every scene are arranged well, and the photography, by Lawrence Sher, is - like the story and the acting – unpretentious, never distracting, tricky or cute. This film never seems to manipulate us; instead it engages us, arouses our curiosity and amusement, bids us gently to care about Andrew and Sam and even Mark, leaving us entertained in the best sense. This movie is as confident, as secure in itself, as comforting, as a well worn pair of house slippers or your favorite reading chair. A splendid film. Grade: A- (09/04)
Open Document