Sundance 2014: Wish I Was Here reaction

Zach Braff's Garden State pseudo-sequel

For many people in their late 20s/early 30s, Garden State was the indie movie of choice for those of a romantic, existential disposition.

It was a movie that got them, and reflected director/writer/star Zach Braff's outlook on life as a listless mid-20-something.

Of course, ask everyone else, and many simply saw it as a saccharine, annoyingly indie and self-indulgent romantic drama.

Which camp you fell into with Garden State will probably have a serious impact on how you feel about Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff's pseudo-sequel, which addresses the romantic, dramatic and philosophical issues he feels now, ten years on.

Braff stars as a struggling out-of-work actor stuck between a need to put food on his family's plate whilst satisfying his own personal, creative and spiritual spark. When his father is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he's forced to face up to the maturing reality of death, life, and the search for meaning in the modern world.

If that sounds heavy, that's because it's undoubtedly a more sobering and emotionally raw tale that, appropriately enough, reflects the spiritual, creative and moral burdens of mid-life-ry.

That's not to say it's devoid of laughs - indeed, Wish I Was Here is imbued with Braff's trademark surreal and occasionally slapstick humour (CGI fantasy daydreams and elderly rabbis segway-ing into walls all get a look in), and while the tonal shift occasionally jars (said segway-ing coming immediately after the announcement of his father's impending death), it's a welcome levity amidst the weightier plot points.

Throw in the whole controversy surrounding its funding-by-Kickstarter, the decade-long anticipation that's amassed amongst Braff fans, and the aforementioned tackling of grander, more spiritual issues, and it's a far more complex beast than its predecessor.

Unfortunately, with complexity so comes the need for a watertight script, and on that front Wish I Was Here is as meandering and sporadically listless as its protagonist. 

Still, even if it's no Garden State 2, with brilliant supporting turns from Mandy Patinkin and Kate Hudson, and a soundtrack as insta-buyable as his last movie, there should be enough to keep Braff aficionados pleased.

 

Looking forward to Wish I Was Here? Let us know below...