Ten years after Garden State became a breakout hit — and the unofficial soundtrack — of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Zach Braff returned to Park City yesterday with his long-awaited, Kickstarter-financed follow-up, Wish I Was Here. Braff said when he made Garden State that he “just wanted to write a movie that describes how I felt about being 28 in 2004.” With Wish I Was Here, which he co-wrote with his brother Adam, he’s taken a similar approach. He plays a struggling commercial actor whose judgmental, conservative Jewish father (Mandy Patinkin) is dying of cancer. When he and his overburdened working wife (Kate Hudson) can no longer afford tuition for their two children’s private school, he decides to home-school them in an unconventional way while clinging to hopes for a resurgence in his acting career.
“Garden State was all the things me and my [20-something] friends were obsessing about and talking about and worrying about, and I put it into a movie,” Braff told the audience after the film’s premiere. “And with this, my brother and I were sharing the things that we’re talking about. He’s got two young children. What are the things he’s wrestling with in teaching them. And with me, it’s my own spirituality. I find the films that I love the most — as a film lover — are the ones that are someone’s unique story. This isn’t a film that anyone else could’ve directed, or something that got passed around and got eventually made. No one else could tell this story that my brother and I wrote.”
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