Title: Garden State
I’ve watched Garden State twice. I was sincerely moved the first time I saw it. But I was so startled by Zach Braff‘s work as an actor in the movie that I went back to see it again.
And I’m convinced it’s as good as anything any up and coming actor has done (Edward Norton and Ryan Gosling included). What makes it so noteworthy is that his acting in the movie feels organic and lived-in.
Braff does triple duty here. He wrote the script in bits and pieces over several years. As a maverick director, he attracted some rather good actors – Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard and Iain Holm. Then he cast himself as the lead, Andrew Largemann, a struggling actor from LA who must return home to attend his mother’s funeral.
At the beginning of the movie, Braff’s character is under heavy psychotherapeutic medication. He stops popping pills after renewing ties with his childhood therapist. And as the days go by, he emerges from an unfeeling stupor into a state where he starts to emote vividly again.
Braff depicts this shedding of numbness so deftly that you barely notice it sneaking by you. It’s a career-defining role in a movie that is fast endearing itself to the current generation.