So Garden State was probably easily in my top 10 favorite movies from ages 14 to 16. I mean I discovered the Shins because of this movie [like the rest of the mainstream world.] It slowly fell in favor of older movies that I was discovering, but I think thought I enjoyed it. Over winter break, I had an indie film fest with my mom, watching this and (500) Days of Summer, which I love, and I was sorely disappointed by it.
I originally loved this movie because I felt it showed how bipolar and bipolar medicine can affect a man and his familial connections, as well as his attempts at love.
But I was so disappointed by the maudlin interpretation of life that I held up so highly in earlier years. Zach Braff’s character is just really annoying and kind of pretentious, and it spreads with his directing. And now I can’t look back fondly on the movie.
I hate the idea that mental health problems can be fixed by another person. Watching this movie again made me realize how warped my perception of what mental health recovery looked like at age 15.
The two parts I felt were the saving grace were Peter Sarsgaard and the soundtrack. Peter is wonderful and captured completely every character he plays. Did you see him be suave and debonair in The Education? I didn’t even recognize him at first, but he was wonderful and very convincing, just like he was in Garden State. And the soundtrack had Coldplay, The Shins, Frou Frou, Simon and Garfunkel and Iron & Wine, all that I love.
I am eternally grateful to Zach Braff and this movie though, because it introduced me to a relatively indie band, The Shins, which expanded my then musical tastes beyond Maroon 5, George Gershwin and whatever was on the radio.