Tribeca Movie Review: Gardener of Eden

The following movie was reviewed at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival:

Gardener of Eden

Gardener of Eden
World Narrative Competition
2007, U.S.A.
Dir: Kevin Connolly

Upon first hearing about Gardener of Eden, I was interested in seeing what such great young talents the likes of Lukas Haas and Giovanni Ribisi would bring forth to the table in this, the directorial debut from actor Kevin Connolly, known for his role in Entourage. Nevertheless, to my utter disappointment, these talents were sorely misused and wasted in the film.

The story begins with Haas’ character, Adam Harris, narrating his entire life up until college, leaving no room for the viewer to be guided by the images themselves and just being delivered a lot of unnecessary exposition. Harris gets kicked out of school for soliciting prostitutes and returns back home to New Jersey to live with his parents once again. While at home, he works at a deli and hangs out with his loser friends around town. On the eve of his being fired from the deli, he gets brutally drunk and beats up a man, who turns out to be a serial rapist. Harris is hailed as the new, unexpected town hero. And it is here that he decides he will no longer be a “slacker”. He knows what he wants to do with his life; he wants to contribute to society. He gets help to do this from his Vietnam vet father, conveniently placed within the film to act as the “mentor figure” but never fully developed as a meaningful character. Oh, and he also begins to fall in love with one of the rapists’ victims, played by Erika Christensen.

One of the main problems of the film is that too many things are going on and are trying to be put across, without any of them really being fleshed out, and ultimately, just adding up to one big mess. It’s a film rife with clichés and worn out motifs. The characters seem fake most of the time, and that’s due in part to the fact that there are way too many of them and none of them really even have a voice of their own. And what baffles me the most is that this occurs with Haas’ character as well. He is unable to carry the film on his shoulders amid a slew of flaky secondary characters.

Which brings me to Giovanni Ribisi’s character Vic. I have been a longtime fan of Giovanni Ribisi and was expecting something more than what he delivered in this film. Ribisi plays the town drug dealer and “bad guy” of the film, and his performance is weak to say the least. He just overacts the “villain” part with an annoying Jersey accent and becomes way too repetitive.

Add to all this stale dialogue and an awkward delivery of said dialogue within a poorly constructed story, and you get a film that goes nowhere fast. It’s a shame to see “young Hollywood” not being able to overcome all the flack they get, especially when they produce as meaningless and undirected junk as this.

/Film Rating: 1 out of 10

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