Movie Poster
Garden State
Zach Braff
Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Saarsgard, Ian Holm
112 min.


Zach Braff has a genuine filmmaker's eye and is loaded with talent. And he's got these huge fucking lips that are loaded with lip meat. And this huge fucking nose that is loaded, presumably, with nose meat. And these eyes that, even when bulging open look like they're half closed. Zach Braff is the ultimate twenty-something hipster movie star. If the Nazis had been run by The Flaming Lips, Braff would be their ubermensch. Or, if Benicio Del Toro were Jewish....

So Braff fashioned himself a story of a stylish twenty-something actor going home to deal with family issues in the wake of his mother's death. As the writer-director-star, the film features countless shots that zoom in from across the room to lock into Braff's distant eyes and shots that start locked on his eyes to zoom back to reveal a whole room. I know that symmetry is the current style, in the wake of Rushmore, but it seems a little different when it is Zach Braff compulsively placing himself in the center of the frame. So, the moral is Braff is in love with Zach, or vice versa. But at least he does it in a reasonably stylish way. Granted the style is entirely prefabricated, it is still pretty.

All the actors, Braff included, turn in good performances. The script is pretty witty, except for the occasional awkward shoe-horning in of some flavor-of-the-month hipster reference (The Shins). The cinematography is nice. The story is affecting, his self-examination (self-love) holds more water as he's clearly more average guy than, say, Warren Beatty.

The soundtrack tries way too hard. Aside from the Shins, there's the Nick Drake, there's the Paul Simon. It's an indie kid's wet dream. But it's easy to ignore.

The movie left me with unanswered questions, though, primarily: is it pronounced like "Bach" or like "latch"?

Pat Jackson