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Garden State  

This is one of my favorite films of the year so far.   It’s the directorial/writing debut of Zach Braff, whom I am told appears in the sitcom ‘Scrubs’, which I’ve not seen (my parents recommend it).   The film is a good laugh, but it’s also moving; the overall tone I’d describe as “bittersweet”.   Braff plays the main character, a minor actor in L.A. who comes back to his Jersey hometown on the occasion of his mother’s funeral, reconnects with an old friend and meets a new one (Peter Sarsgaard and Natalie Portman, respectively, both excellent).   Because of a childhood tragedy that we learn about midway through, he’s been on a pharmacopoeia of meds for most of his life.   He decides to go off them for his trip home.  

The film does show some signs of Braff’s first-timer status, in that it sometimes goes for effects that it doesn’t quite pull off.   But at least it dares to go for such moments.  

- Sep 17, 2004

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