Garden State: Exploring the Infinite Abyss of Life

Here’s the thing: if you want to be friends with me, I’m going to have to ask you to watch Garden State. Because if you’ve never seen Zach Braff’s masterpiece about the cruel complexities of life, you stand no chance of ever fully grasping the mysterious ways in which my soul works. Here’s what you need to know about one of my all time favourite films…

Garden State (2004): Written and directed by Zach Braff and starring Zach Braff (Scrubs, The Last Kiss), Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Star Wars), Peter Sarsgaard (An Education), Ian Holm (The Lord of the Rings).

Remember that goofy kid from Scrubs? Yeah, turns out he’s a brilliant filmmaker, too. Zach Braff didn’t “just” write and direct Garden State, he also put together the film’s soundtrack which – and this is true – won him a Grammy!

What’s it about? A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

What’s it really about? The wonderfully complex construct that is life

Pick if:

  • You are looking for a serious film to watch on your own while you contemplate life and all its challenges: Garden State is the story of a young man who finds the courage to feel something again for the first time in years
  • You like weird, kooky characters: you will fall in love with Natalie Portman’s Sam
  • You appreciate a great soundtrack: with songs by Coldplay, The Shins, and Simon & Garfunkel, is it really any wonder this film won “Best Soundtrack” at the Grammys?
  • You like films that are infinitely quotable in their exploration of life and adulthood


Most memorable quotes:

“If you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to seem a whole lot longer than you’d like” -Sam

“Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place” – Andrew

“You’re in it right now, aren’t you? My mom always says that, when she can see I’m like working something out in my head, she’s like, ‘you’re in it right now’ and I’m looking at you’re telling this story, and you’re definitely in it” – Sam

Most memorable scene: Sam tells Andrew the secret to feeling original.


Magic Music Moment:“The only living boy in New York” by Simon and Garfunkel plays as Andrew, Sam and Mark scream into the infinite abyss in the pouring rain.


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