FlickNut
2004/08/04
 [edit] # 17:59
The Infinite Abyss

GARDEN STATE is the first film for director/writer Zach Braff who also stars in it. Andrew Largeman is back in town (somewhere in NJ) for the funeral of his mother after being estranged from his parents for 9 years.

After "Large" has a dream in which he calmly sits on a crashing plane as all his fellow passengers cry and move about frantically, panicking - he decides to stop taking any of the many, many antidepressants that fill his drug cabinet. As the story moves on we are given clues to his life in New Jersey before he left.

The journey is almost Odyssean as Large comes back from the edge of not feeling. The film is in fact how Large is able to re-embrace living, how he comes back from being numb to being normal. And, yes there is a romance with a girl (Natalie Portman).

The biggest disappointment was the ending. It feels a bit tacked-on, like it was done for Hollywood's sake. The movie would have been better if it ended either 7 minutes earlier in the Infinite Abyss or 2 minutes earlier in a scene that echos the beginning of the movie.

The film has a great humorous aesthetic, but I felt at times assaulted by it. Is NJ really filled with very strange characters that all seem to know him or his friends? Are pets really that hilarious? My thought is that Braff did it to create levity in a film that would have been too depressing otherwise.

Braff also seems to suffer from first time ADD in film making. He used editing and camera tricks to enliven the pace of the movie, slo-mo, quick cuts, swooping camera angles, speedy motion, but none in any consistent fashion. This was intermixed with panoramic angles and small languorous scenes. It wasn't distracting so much as puzzling, "What emotion did he intend for us to have here - with that camera angle?"

The film is good and one is bound to enjoy the soundtrack and humor, but the film doesn't resonate enough to stay with me days after viewing it. It's not a film I'd recommend or caution against. I think it does show that Braff will soon be a force to reckon with as he continues to add slashes to his credits. (He adds Producer to Writer/Director/Actor on his next film.)

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