I recently found Garden State in the dollar DVD bin at a record store and gave it a watch due to its cult following. The movie’s debut was in 2004 and featured Zack Braff (writer and director) and Natalie Portmans’ struggle with internal issues and family problems. It’s storyline is pretty cheesy, and Natalie Portman’s character makes you cringe at times, but the indie film’s use of imagery and negative space to develop the main character’s progression is intriguing for someone who appreciates the ‘in between the lines’ plot points.
The two iconic photos in Garden State where Braff is wearing the button-up shirt that blends in with the living room wallpaper and when he is lying in bed surounded by white with just his head poking out is more personality based than funny. It’s actually not as funny as people make it out to be. How this movie got categorized as a ‘comedy’ is beyond me, but hey, I’m a Dr. Cox fan so there is a subconscious biased somewhere in this review. These shots show Braff’s mental state. He is drugged up dealing with depression and can’t feel anything. He is blending into his environment and in a daze with no disctractioms. The use of negative space develops his character in the beginning, and as Braff progresses, he blends less and less into the background of certain shots.
That being said, the rest of the film was unappealing to me. The worst part had to be Natalie Portman’s character. The cringing mannerisms and her portrayal of a mentally unstable teen is unconvincing. The boring side plot and characters don’t add any entertainment, and the ending was unsatisfying.
I applaud the effort Zach Braff, and hopefully your new movie Going in Style with Morgan Freeman ends up being decent, but Garden State did not live up to the cult hype. Let us know what you think about Garden State and Going in Style, and thanks for reading.
Photo Credit: Snagged from vulture.com