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Garden State


Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Garden State

Scrubs star Zack Braff's debut feature Garden State is as memorable as it is brilliant. It transcends its meagre budget to become a truly imaginative picture thanks to the quality of the writing and Braff's luck in getting his first choice of cast.

"'Largeman, what are you doing here?'" is the question that greets Andrew Largeman (Braff) as he returns to New Jersey, the "Garden State", after an absence of nine years. Having been living in LA as a mildly successful TV star and part-time restaurant worker, he has returned home for his disabled mother's funeral. What follows is a voyage of self-discovery as the lethargic Largeman comes back to life when he stops taking the medication that has suppressed his emotions for as long as he can remember. He meets up with old friends and makes new ones, most notably the eccentric Sam (Portman), whilst reconciling the past with his father (Holm).

The entire cast are magnificent. Braff, in particular, announces his arrival on the big screen with such force that it will not be long before he makes the transition permanent. Portman too is back to her best, sending a stark rebuttal to critics who thought she was spent following the derisory Star Wars prequels.

Braff's script is beautifully written, with tremendous dialogue and some truly memorable scenes. The humour that drives the piece is firmly grounded in quirky offbeat moments that give plenty of opportunities for the audience to laugh out loud. However, the film is not without its moments of intimacy and tenderness, as well as shocking twists, which keep the dramatic content high.

Braff's final contribution is the slick direction, making you wonder if there is anything he can't do. It is this all-round ability that showcases his full potential, marking him out for future in the industry.

In short, this is a great film that I'm sure everyone would enjoy. The critics loved it but so did the audiences, giving it a box office gross that most independent films would envy. I feel this success is well and truly justified - long may it continue.

James Kopka

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)