Saturday, 21 April 2012

Garden State (2004)

I'm a bit of a sucker for films like Garden State. Written, starring and directed by Zach Braff, it follows the personal journey of a mid-twenties actor who returns home for the first time in nearly a decade to go to his mother's funeral. Cue a lot of soul searching and self-discovery as he reconnects with people he used to know, attempts to fix broken relationships and falls in love.

With a general feeling of detachment and being lost, it deals with a lot of feelings that I imagine most people deal with when they first move away from home. There's one scene where Braff's character talks about how your idea of "home" changes after leaving the family house, where you've been away "home" long enough that it doesn't feel the same any more and the new place you live only feels like a place to keep your sh*t, it's a pretty relatable concept. I see a number of my friends from back home in some of the supporting cast too, as I imagine everyone will. You've got the guy who's pretty successful in terms of career/money but has no idea at all what he actually enjoys doing or wants to do, the guy who just seems locked in a time-freeze where nothing's changed for him since leaving school and the guy who's completely flipped in what everyone expected of them.

Then you get people like Sam, the kind of quirky eccentric who at first seems to have a unique world view and is enthralling but turns out to be a bit crazy. She reminds me a lot of Kate Winslet's character in Eternal Sunshine, the kind of girl that's a bit of an adorable oddball who's a rollercoaster of emotion. Actually, the film has a lot of parallels with Eternal Sunshine, with the lost, numb main character and the journey he goes on with one of those girls. It's probably why I liked it so much.

For a writing and directorial debut, Garden State's a triumph. Enjoyable and engaging for a relatively low-key affair, it's quite deserving of the ranking it received in Empire's Top 500 Films of All Time (393).

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