Garden State

Andrew “Large” Largeman (Zach Braff) is a going-nowhere actor whose psychiatrist father has kept him doped up on anti-depressants since he was a kid. When he returns home to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral, he starts to come out of his haze and wake up to the world around him. While hanging out with a group of his old school friends, he falls in love with Sam (Natalie Portman), and gradually learns to deal with the raw emotions that he has been shielded from for so long.

One words critics use to describe Zach Braff’s directorial debut is “assured”, and you really can’t argue with that. For a film where very little actually happens, the scenes are set and played out with a minimum of fluff and shilly-shallying, while simultaneously maintaining a light touch of dreamlike whimsy. It’s very clever. The dialogue is natural, even when the characters are off-beat, but I thought it fell down at the last hurdle. Large’s confrontation with his father, and the tearful airport scene seemed lacking in passion, and they deflated the magical, romantic bubble of the rest of the film. It’s still enormous fun to watch, though, and Braff is going to be an actor and director to keep tabs on for the future.