Wednesday, June 7, 2006

GARDEN STATE
Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm



A movie written and directed by Chicken Little aka that doctor dude (I don't know his name) in "Scrubs", Zach Braff.
He plays Andrew Largeman, a two bit actor in Los Angeles who goes home to New Jersey for the funeral of his mother. Large, as he is fondly referred to in the entire film goes through the motions of seeing his old friends, trying to re-establish a cordial relationship with his father and acknowledging an unfortunate incident in his childhood. Amidst these mind spinning processes, he encounters eccentric yet totally endearing in all her cuteness, Natalie Portman. She is Sam, a perky freespirit who supposedly has epilepsy, who isn't afraid to laugh about herself, constantly lies, has her pets dying on her but is such a lovely person inside out.
Large, on the other hand is a deeply disturbed individual who has been heavily medicated his entire life.
An incident in his childhood turned him into an emotionally detached individual.
Yet as the film unfolds we slowly witness his thawing, his sense of bitterness and numbness begin to subside. All because Sam with her positive energy and charming wit becomes his personal cheering squad. As the film evolves, we feel a sense of delight that Large is coming into his true self. Fair enough. What guy can resist Natalie Portman's sweet witty charms? This role fits Natalie Portman perfectly. She delivers a few of those existential lines which add to the beauty of the film.

"This is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this. This one thing."

"If you can't laugh at yourself, life's gonna seem a whole lot longer than you like."

"I know it hurts. But it's life, and it's real. And sometimes it fucking hurts, but it's life, and it's pretty much all we got."


But I guess kudos goes to Zach Braff because he did write the screenplay, after all. I have to admit his doctor character on "Scrubs" never appealed to me so I've never watched an episode of that show. But he has proven his worth as an actor and a first
time director in this film. Granted that the film isn't well crafted, some scenes seem out of place but overall the script more than made up for it.

It can't help but be compared to that other film which also focuses the same premise. A young down on his luck guy returns to his hometown to bury a parent and in the process, he discovers himself. "Elizabethtown" was helmed by Cameron Crowe and starred two ineffectual actors Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. I found it too long and boring. The film was peppered with too many songs and the characters were not engaging enough to deserve our undivided attention.

Garden State though is a delightfully quirky film with eccentric characters who provide some meaningful insights about living life and dealing with issues we all grapple with at some point in our existence. The simplistic approach belittles the fact that this film will make you ponder about your own life.

But I'm still not going to watch "Scrubs". No thanks!

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