Garden State (2004)
It's wonderful to come across a film like Garden State. Not because it's a particularly good or effective movie, but because of the sheer talent that shines through it. I have no doubt in my mind that first-time writer/director/star Zach Braff can achieve great things in movies, because he has a personal vision and style, and conducts scenes with a poetic quality. Garden State never quite fulfills its promise, however, although it is thoroughly pleasant and creative. The acting is fine, but Braff fails somewhat in a few crucial story-bearing character relations. Ian Holm has rarely been less powerful, and the scenes between him and Braff are neither here nor there. Furthermore, the romance between Portman and Braff takes a while to convince, as the director hurries a bit too much early on. In the end, we're presented with a delightful but somewhat unexceptional finale in which the film (bearing in mind Portman's similar character) resembles a bleaker version of Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls. Braff isn't quite a young Tim Hutton, but his film is richer and more promising than both Beautiful Girls and most other films in the same vein. The soundtrack is great - both concerning the original and compiled material. I'll look forward to the next try from this young filmmaker.