Directed by: Zach Braff
Starring: Natalie Portman, ZachBraff, Peter Scarsgaad
Only a few times a year are we lucky enough to stumble upon a perfect movie. In Zach Braff’s tastefully sentimental “Garden State” we are treated to one of year’s quietest gems. At times the story feels like a chapter from a yet unpublished Nick Hornby novel. In it a young man, coming to terms with his family and future, returns home from California to his hometown for the funeral of his mother. Under a dreary New Jersey sky he is faced with a heavy air that hangs between he and his father, and the anesthetizing numbness of too many years on antidepressants. The central character is a struggling actor named Andrew Largeman, played with a gloomy but restrained precision by Braff, who meets a similarly pained soul played by Natalie Portman. Slowly, but with a kind of acceptable inevitability, the two help to pull each other from a their own personal abyss.
For those of us stuck in that hazy dream world filled with an eternal search for happiness, much of the struggle is one filled with music that accompanies this endless search. In “Garden State” the soundtrack to these lives is impeccably sung by The Shins, Nick Drake and others whose words seem to say much more than would have otherwise been possible. In the end life is about the little steps that we take and the care in which we take to make them. This is a movie about just that, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.