Celluloid Lane: "Garden State"

garden_stateIn the first few minutes of "Garden State", I assumed I was watching a movie about apathy- the kind of apathy so many of us in our mid-20s experience when we realize that life is hard and unfair and we'll never be rich and famous no matter how hard we work. "Garden State" is refreshingly more complicated and cleverly woven than that, though I do get the sense that main character Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff, who also wrote/directed the film) and I have shared a few of the same "i'm a grown-up now" disappointments.

In short, Andrew is coming home to New Jersey from LA for his mother's funeral. Deep-rooted family issues have kept him on the opposite coast since he was old enough to escape, though, for reasons not immediately clear to us, even the allure of LA has never allowed him much joy or emotion.

Those who help him along what ends up being an introspective journey are a few old friends from high school (similar to a few I left behind in my own small town, which is both amusing and depressing), and a beautiful, odd stranger (Natalie Portman), with whom Andrew crosses paths.

"Garden State" ambles along without much of a conflict or climax, but somehow manages to stay focused without dragging itself down in angst or veering away from what's essentially a simple tale. A impressively thoughtful soundtrack seals the deal. This was a sweet little movie... touching and smart.

PS- Guys, don't shy away. This movie is more for you than me.