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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 11 months ago

Garden State is without a doubt one of the best films ever made. The story was written, directed, and acted in by Zach Braff from the television show “Scrubs.” Praised by critics, it has been called “the seminal film for today’s generation” by USA Today, and “One of the best films of the year” by CBS-TV Chicago. Rolling Stone calls it “hilarious.”


The story is about a young man in his twenties named Andrew Largeman (Braff) who lives in Los Angeles as an aspiring actor and waiter at a local Vietnamese restaurant. His father calls him one morning to tell him that his mother has died when she drowned while taking a bath. Andrew returns to his hometown in New Jersey for her funeral after being away for nine years.


While home, Andrew’s father, who is also his psychiatrist, sends him to speak with a neurologist about headaches that he has been experiencing. When he is in the waiting room at the hospital, Andrew meets a quirky, free-spirited girl named Sam (Natalie Portman). Andrew finally meets with the doctor and discovers that there is nothing wrong with him and he might not even need the medication that he’s been taking for years. The doctor advises him to find a psychiatrist who is not his father and consider another form of treatment.


The next evening, Sam and Andrew go out to a local bar for drinks and to talk. While talking, Sam gives Andrew the advice that “if you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s gonna seem a lot longer than you’d like it to.” She admits to him that she has epilepsy and Andrew confides to her the reason behind his mother’s death.


The night before he leaves, Andrew tells Sam stories about his mother. He complains about how hard life is and Sam tells him, “That’s life. If nothing else, that is life. It’s real and sometimes it fucking hurts.”


This movie is a perfect blend of flippant humor and sincerity. It easily transitions from weighty subjects to unexpected witticism. By the end of the film, you are able to see how some of the characters have changed themselves whereas others have gone back to living their lives the way they had before. The roles are played convincingly with Braff doing a superb job of portraying Andrew’s journey from an apathetic lifestyle to a much more passionate way of life. Portman, who is known for opting to act in the more independent films, shines in her role of Sam. CBS-TV Chicago says “Portman has never been better!” In addition to these two important factors, the movie also includes a wonderful love story between Andrew and Sam. It shows how their whirlwind romance causes them to fall in love. Unlike most other movies, their love is sincere and not based on a sexual relationship. Other stars include Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm, and a cameo appearance by Method Man.


The movie also boasts a stellar soundtrack featuring music from artists such as The Shins, Coldplay, Cary Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel, and many others. Overall, the soundtrack is mellow and thought-provoking. Each song has its own blend of exceptional lyrics and stimulating music. It was truly amazing how well each song augmented the movie; although most of these artists are lesser known, they are nonetheless incredible and the style of music fits the emotions in the movie. Braff did a superb job choosing songs to add to the feelings evoked during each scene. In reverse, each scene can also add to the songs depending on its context; it can make the viewer enjoy the song more or less because of the way it is seen in sync with the movie. Some of the best songs on the soundtrack include “Blue Eyes” by Cary Brothers, “Fair” by Remy Zero, “Such Great Heights” by Iron and Wine, and “Winding Road” by Bonnie Somerville.


Garden State has something for everyone. It is sad, funny, and romantic. I would recommend seeing it at least once to see if it is the movie for you!

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