- Woodcock, John
- Date of entry: Dec-31-1997
- Last revised: Mar-30-2005
In his mid-twenties and having been estranged from his family since his mid-teens, Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns home to New Jersey for a few days to attend his mother's funeral. The world he meets there (in "The Garden State," ironically) is persistently unnatural and weird. His old school friends are leading grotesque and diminished lives, and Andrew dislikes and dreads his father, a psychiatrist played by Ian Holm, because of the prehistory we discover in mid-film. (Andrew's mother had suffered with depression, and young Andrew hated her for it. One day, aged 9, he gave her a shove, and freak circumstances led to a hard fall and her becoming paraplegic. Fifteen years later she has died in her bathtub, perhaps a suicide--although that isn't mentioned in the film.)
Andrew keeps his psychic distance from all this, with one fortunate exception: By chance he meets Samantha or "Sam" (Natalie Portman), a sweet loopy girl his age who lives in a child-like room in her mother's house and has a tendency to lie a lot and then confess. She and Andrew take a liking to each other, and a relationship develops that eventually helps Andrew come to terms with his mother's death, with his role in the tragic prehistory, and, thus, with his father and his own life, now able to begin, finally, as a young adult.
Fox Searchlight Pictures