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Garden State [2004]

Posted on the 16 August 2012 by Diana @azizaspicks
Garden State [2004]
Written and directed by Zach Braff, Garden State is a weird, rather pretentious movie that failed to really impress me. Everything seemed too perfectly awkward and amazingly hipster, with a large dose of misunderstood melancholic state that absolutely didn't feel realistic, and not even a little bit adorable.
OK, maybe I'm being too harsh on it, let's go back to the beginning. Garden State tells the story of Andrew Largeman, a wannabe actor who is forced to return to his hometown in order to witness the burial of his mother. He then gets reacquainted with some old high school friends (Peter Sarsgaard being one of them) and meets a sweet, wacky girl, named Sam (Natalie Portman). It's basically a character development story; you may even called it a coming of age one, and usually I'm all up for it, because I love these kinds of scripts, but this was just....slightly unbearable. If I were the quitting type, I would have done it by minute 15, but I'm not, so I stayed until the end, and I don't regret it that much, since I did see a couple of scenes I liked. I understand and appreciate the fact that it is a personal story for Braff and that it is, in a way, autobiographical, but sometimes just didn't click for me.
From a filmmaking point of view, there's nothing particular to say about the direction or the cinematography- they didn't stand out, good or bad. As for the screenplay, as you might imagine, I'm not that positive about it. I understood where he was going with the story, with the idea of quitting drugs and finally experiencing life, but I thought most of the dialog was a tad too clicheic, if that is a word, and even a little bit lame. Again, it was almost screaming from every letter and phrase, "look at me, I'm so awkward and melancholic and misunderstood, but underneath all that I'm such a cool, beautiful person". Now, I'm not applying this to the whole movie- I actually liked the screaming into abyss scene and the bath one between the two lovers (that was an honest, sweet moment); it actually started getting interesting in his last day in town, with the whole hunting for Large's present but overall, yeah, it didn't do it for me. I did love the soundtrack, that was definitely a strong point.
As for the acting, I won't dwell too much on it, but I will talk a bit about Natalie Portman's character. Most of time, I really didn't knew if I absolutely loved or hated her. Sometimes she would be sweet and caring, other times her forced wackiness would just completely put me off. I still don't how I feel about her. What did you think of her character?
In conclusion, if you want to watch Garden State, I suggest you don't. Please, just try something else: when's the last time you saw a 1950s movie? Or a musical? Just rent Beauty and the Beast, I 'm 100% sure you will like it more than this.

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