Just got back from seeing 'Garden State', and there are spoilers ahead (though not too many):
This movie hit me like a ton of bricks. I could talk about this movie cinematically, or I can talk about it as a human being affected by art. I'll probably do a bit of both.
Zach Braff's debut film is a powerful, simple, effortless look into the life of a human. He plays the lead character, Andrew Largeman, as someone who is affected by feeling for the first time in his life, having been medicated for most of his consciousness. That the person prescribing the medication is his father tells you as much about his past life as anything could, though subtle nuances and experiences from his life slip out. What is great about the writing of this movie is the way those subtle experiences are revealed. They come out as part of the conversation, like we find things out in life: As though we are meeting someone real and getting to know them as we would in our lives. They aren't force fed to us in a expositionary segment of the movie, but are given to us as though we are getting to know him, and we only know as much as we need to know at any given moment. Those moments of revelation make us want to get to know his character better.
The relationship of the audience to Andrew is mirrored by the character of Sam, played by Natalie Portman. As a viewer, I couldn't help but relate her to her role in 'Beautiful Girls,' and she does seem to embody some of the aspects of her character, as if Marty grew up and became this slightly neurotic girl. They meet in this movie and have an instant connection. As Sam learns about Andrew, so do we, and we experience his first forays into feeling along side of her. She is his guide through this time, and her experience of him for the first time re-energizes him. It makes his troubled time just a tiny bit easier to manage, and helps him to open the door to confronting the issues that he has chemically pushed aside during his growing up.
This movie is about the big moments in life, but its charm is in the small ones. The moments of spark between people. That time in your life where you are just between young and adult, where you are just past the point where you can be foolish and spontaneous and still be able to blame it on youthful indiscretion.
I was so touched by this movie. There were moments in it which moved me, and there were parts that I really identified with. When Andrew tells Sam about the moment when you realize that you can return home, and it isn't the place you grew up in anymore. That it isn't your home, and you are, in fact, homesick for a place that no longer exists. When he talks about going a long period in your life without crying. I identified with these moments.
There are films like these, every once in a while, which make me want to write down about the little moments in life. I want to write about the times when you are fighting with your girlfriend in the middle of the night and you are so emotionally drained, and the hour is so late that you are drifting to sleep while simultaneously feeling the intensity in the air with every fiber of you. About the times when you are walking outside at 2 in the morning with music in your ears, and it is so quiet that you are enveloped by music and the stillness and you just feel at peace. About the random times, when you are still, doing nothing, and you have the revelations that you remember for the rest of your life. The 3am movie that teaches you and sums up what you have been trying to hash through in your head.
This movie makes me want to write about those moments, and makes me appreciate the fact that someone already has, and put it up on screen in a way that you identify with intensely.