Film review: Garden State

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Garden State

So Zach told me to tell all my friends to go see his film Garden State. Sure Zach, it’s cool.

OK, so there was a cinema full of people, but it was the first screening in Australia and Zach Braff, 29-year-old writer, director and star of his movie, was there to answer questions after the film. Effortlessly confident and funny, like a better-looking Joss Whedon, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Of course, it helped that we’d all just enjoyed his little gem of a film. (What’s it like to field questions from an audience on a press junket when your film is crap, I wonder?)

Garden State doesn’t set out to change the world, but it’s a beautiful film, simple, funny, well filmed and sensitively acted. Natalie Portman does one of her best acting turns as Sam, the girl who pops up like a bobbing cork in the life of Andrew Largeman, heavily-medicated actor returning to his home town in New Jersey for the funeral of his mother. Add some interesting characters, a brief bit of father-son reconciliation, a touch of tragedy, a great pop soundtrack, and sit back and enjoy the gentle journey. Braff loves a wide, still frame (often of his own face) but contrasts beautifully with sweeping emotive crane shots. Like Largeman’s medicated upbringing, there are very few rough edges here and things don’t always feel true to the real messiness that is life. But the film is no less enjoyable for that. We all want someone to appear in our lives and make it alright, and few of us are lucky enough to have that happen. Why not see it happen on the screen sometimes?

Four tears in a cup out of five.


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