Zach Braff, Garden State (2004)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Movies
March 18th, 2005 • 1:10 am

It is so refreshing to see that such debuts can still happen in this world. Zach Braff is both the director and the leading actor in this excellent romantic comedy… If the very genre (romantic comedy) makes you cringe, this movie will probably not change your opinion. But if you are not prejudiced against the genre, then you’ll find that this movie is among the very best.

Simply put, it has lots of very funny moments. And the “romantic” aspect of it has this particular texture that anyone with a sweet tooth knows is the very reason why they still have a sweeth tooth. It is this je ne sais quoi that makes characters like Sam (Nathalie Portman) simply lovable. As soon as Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) enters her world, you know that there is going to be some kind of blooming, that things are going to be fine — and the rest is all in the funny twists and hilarious turns.

Hard to believe? What might be hard to believe (and empathize with) in the movie is not a matter of far-fetched coincidence and implausible plot twists. It’s a matter of human character. And I don’t find it too hard to believe that people like Sam and her family do exist. They have nothing extraordinary about them. They are simply human. They might have been through a lot, they might have to put up with a lot, but they are still there, with a smile. Not cynical. Not selfish. Not depressed. Just human.

The movie is far from perfect, of course. There are a few implausible aspects (one of which being the fact that the main character has been on antidepressants all his life and can just stop cold turkey without any visible side-effects). Some secondary characters are a bit too caricatural. The ending is inevitably conventional.

But on the whole, the movie is still refreshingly, upliftingly, deliciously, simply good. Because it’s funny. Because it’s human. And for once it doesn’t focus on the evil side of things. There is enough of it around us. We don’t need every movie to remind us of it. We need more movies like this one, where the struggle is not necessarily, unavoidably, between good and evil, where the struggle is simply to try and live and be reasonably happy.

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