Friday, February 04, 2005

Garden State

"You know, this necklace makes me think of this totally random memory of my mother. I was a little kid, and I was crying for whatever reason. And she was cradling me, rocking me back and forth, and I can just remember the silver balls rolling around. And there was snot dripping all over my face. She offered me her sleeve and told me to blow my nose. I can can remember, even as a little kid, thinking to myself, "This is love... this is love." - Andrew Largeman, Garden State

I just finished watching the movie Garden State for the first time. The complexity of the main character offers a lot to think about in terms of what is true life, what is love, how do we deal with our pain, how do we repair broken relationships, when should we be satisfied with the way that our life is going and where we stand with other people. What happens to some people that causes them to lose their spark for living? If we long to get it back, how do we get it? Have you ever had somebody come into your life who has some sort of love for living that you want to catch? Don't you sometimes envy the freedom to laugh out loud at a stranger in a doctor's waiting room who has a guide dog humping his leg? Or are you more like the guy being urged to let loose who wiggles his pointer finger?

I think the reason this movie resonated with so many people is that it faces some of the hard issues of life in an "everyday" fashion. It doesn't seem like a highly scripted, always-perfect world (alas, as much as I love Alias, I must admit that as drama it's incredibly sterile and predictable); it's some people living life and having small moments that make a difference. What's more, we all know (or are) some of the characters in that movie.

By the way, I wouldn't consider the above quote necessarily central to the movie, but I liked it and it was one of the few meaningful quotes that I liked that didn't have a proliferation of swearing in it. Here's another one with swearing:

Andrew Largeman: Fuck, this hurts so much.
Sam: I know it hurts. But it's life, and it's real. And sometimes it fucking hurts, but it's life, and it's pretty much all we got.

What a sad view of life! On the surface, it seems to be just what AL needs to hear, but think about it: here is Sam, who is the picture of life in this film - she is seizing the day, letting go, not caring about what other people think, fighting through tough times, laughing, living ... and her life philosophy amounts to nothing more than, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." The movie leaves unanswerd any question about the purpose of life, and the nature of living while it is to be done is undeniably bleak when examined closely. Her way of living suggests that she hopes for more; her zest for life suggests that she has a fundamental desire for her life to have significance.

I'm being intentionally vague in these comments because if anybody happens to read this and they haven't watched the movie, I don't want to ruin the whole thing for them. But as a closing comment, I ask myself how satisfactory the ending of the movie really was ... did it answer the questions that the movie asked? The ending is good: I liked it, and I liked the movie as a whole. But at the present analysis, I have to say that while Garden State does a good job of creatively posing life's questions, it does not do as well in posing real answers to those questions.


Anonymous said...

I have never been to this site before... just happened to be looking up info on Garden State, and alas your blog has arrived at my mouseclick. As far as the movie answering the questions it poses, I feel any movie would loose all of its "real"ness if it answered life's questions. The answers to any question that can be categorized under a "life question", in general, is a personal choice. People will answer them differently. I am not even sure this response is coherent, but nice analysis anyway!!! :) Good day

Allison said...

Much like the previous commenter, I was looking for a Garden State quote and happened upon your blog - apparently 2 years after this entry was written :-) But I agree that if Zach Braff had finished the movie with the "answers" to life questions, it wouldn't be real. Who knows the answers to lifes questions? If there were answers, the questions would be obsolete, no?

I think the movie ends perfectly - with Andrew and Sam wondering "what do we do?" It's the ultimate life question - what DO we do?

Just thought I'd share :-)