- The Soundtrack – You can not mention Garden State without mentioning the music, even Natalie Portman’s character Sam states “You gotta hear this song, it’ll change your life forever” as she gives Braff’s character her headphones that are bumping The Shin’s “Caring is Creepy.” It sets the tone of the story, the sad yet hopeful tunes are oddly catchy and you can’t stop listening to them. The soundtrack as a whole is a rare one in which you do not have to skip over any songs. There’s no weird instrumental song or a line from the movie, just strictly indie gem after indie gem. Imogen Heap became a huge indie darling after her band Frou Frou were featured on this album, coincidence? I think not.
- The Story – I will be the first one to say the story is not original – a young man aspiring but failing at success has to go home because of a death in the family, in that trip finds a new way to live life and reignites his happiness and potential journey – but there is a reason for the lack of orginality, this story never gets old. We have all been through it, hopefully without losing your mother or someone close, but you get stuck. You find yourself on a journey to do something but with no road to lead you there, this story gives you hope that hey maybe there will be a happy surprise that’ll switch your life up but end up with a happier outcome. In this case, it was Andrew Largeman, Braff’s character, meeting Sam. It’s a story that is hard to not relate to and, in all honestly, hope to find your own Sam.
- The Performances – Zach Braff had been known for his goofy, but still great, performance as JD on the hit show “Scrubs” so when he introduced this film it was very interesting and impressive to see him pull off the pretty serious Andrew Largeman. Throughout the film you meet a variety of characters but Largeman is always the straight man. In a way, Braff played the Portman role and Portman played the Braff role. Natalie Portman played Sam the goofy new love interest for Largeman. She is carefree and silly even though we find out she is dealing with some much more serious situations. Both actors had very believable performances and you stopped judging or overthinking Braff being so serious once the first song hits and he’s off to New Jersey.
There aren’t many memorable indie films lately, one can even question what with the Fast and the Furious franchise and action movies dominating lately – is the indie genre dying? I truly hope not. Sure, they’re not for everyone, but many indie films are like Hot Topic and CW shows – you go through your phases with them growing up, they help shape you as a person. Without indie films how can an awkward adolescent truly blossom? Here’s to hoping they’ll be a Garden State sequel – just kidding! But let’s hope this film and indie films as a whole continue to live on forever!