This week’s “F.I.L.M.” is “Garden State.” Written and directed by Zach Braff, the star of TV’s “Scrubs,” the debut is a wonderfully delightful indie comedy. It’s filled with its own set of quirks that we come to associate with the genre, but the movie is equally remarkable for its contrastingly somber side.
“Garden State” is constructed upon a beautifully ironic premise. Failed actor Andrew Largeman (Braff) comes home to New Jersey to attend his mother’s funeral. At the same time, Andrew decides that it is time to go off the anti-depressants that he has been taking since his troubled teenage years. These medications have made him feel numb and stoic to life passing by.
But as he wanes off the meds, Andrew begins to open his eyes to all the great things happening around him. He falls for compulsive liar Sam (Natalie Portman), a fiery chick with a bubbling personality. He begins to smile again. He confronts the issues which have forced him into depression. But overall, “Garden State” is such a remarkable movie because it is a movie about rediscovering the joy of living.
For an enriched viewing experience, I recommend having watched Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate” before seeing this. Not only will you have seen two great movies, but it will give you great insight into Zach Braff’s influences. Someone told me that watching modern comedy without having seen “The Graduate” is akin to trying to see in fog. Now that I have seen it, I agree.
But I digress. Watch “Garden State” – and listen, too, because it’s got a great soundtrack (which seems to be another hallmark of this genre).