Garden State is Zach Braff’s debut as writer and director, and it is about a man returning home and having an internal awakening. Braff plays Andrew Largeman, a Jersey native who is now an actor in Los Angeles. After being estranged from his father for 10 years, Largeman returns to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral.
Largeman has spent most if his life on anti-depressant medication, but after a doctor’s visit for headaches, he makes the decision to stop taking them. He also meets Samantha, played by Natalie Portman, while in the doctor’s office. A friendship develops between the two as Largeman hangs out and introduces her to old friends.
The film revolves around Largemen’s time in Jersey. It includes partying and hanging out, facing past demons, and falling in love. It is not as trite or cliché as it could seem. In fact, Braff’s script does not follow the traditional screenplay three-act structure. The story flows in the same way that life unfolds.
This movie struck a chord on many levels. In fact, one of my favorite scenes is when Largeman climbs on top of an old crane and just screams out loud. The release and freedom of pain was powerful at that point in the film.
Extras on the DVD included a better than usual behind-the-scenes look at Garden State, deleted scenes, outtakes, commentary and more.
I certainly recommend this movie for independent film fans, and at a minimum, it should be watched by all at least once.
GRADE: A (movie) A (DVD)