starring Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm
written and directed by Zach Braff
by Walter Chaw As disaffected turns of phrase go, New Jersey's nickname "The Garden State" is a pretty fair description of a vegetative state of mind. Zach Braff's hyphenate debut Garden State seizes on that wilful misreading, offering up a Girl, Interrupted for boys featuring a lead character fresh from The Bell Jar: an over-medicated, under-emoted man who just wants to feel something, damnit. It's what passes for groundbreaking independent cinema in the new millennium--drugs and depression as a stage for spastic trick shots (the great fallout from Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream). It demeans low-achieving minimum wagers with small-dreams and extols the virtues of true love without aspiration, but its scattershot glimpse of fad-fortunes vs. old money doesn't go very far in making the case for Garden State as either social exposé or romantic whimsy. If the picture's anything, it's just a worn rock skipping along a smooth, glassy surface.