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|Movie Review: Hesher
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devon Brochu
We don't review too many movies around here, but I think Hesher would appeal to the masses of this website just because of what it is. Press people are using the movie’s metal-based soundtrack, featuring Metallica and Motorhead, as a marketing angle. Well, this indie film, featuring a star-studded cast – Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, (500) Days of Summer), Oscar-winner Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Thor, everything else) and Rainn Wilson (The Office) – was sort of difficult to see in theaters, but now it’s out on DVD so the nice people at Lionsgate gave me a fancy watermarked streamy thing.
Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) is basically a crazy motherfucker who listens to metal music and drives around in a van and blows shit up. Seriously, what a badass character. He ups the punx throughout the entire film, and watching JGL walk around with shitty tattoos and an “I don’t give a fuck, but at the same time I give so many fucks” attitude is great when we’re used to seeing him all dressed up with his hair slicked back.
Hesher is found living in a model home that is under construction by a young boy named TJ (Devon Brochu). TJ’s mother has recently passed away in a car accident, and his life has taken a bad turn for the worse. He lives with his father (Rainn Wilson), who is so devastated by the loss of his wife that he turns into a useless human being. Laying around on the couch, not going to work, not shaving, not doing anything to pay attention to TJ at all, TJ is given free reign and has a very adult-like attitude while he rides around town on his bicycle.
Hesher follows TJ home and, uninvited, walks right into his house and starts doing laundry. He begins to live in the garage, and TJ’s dad is too apathetic and scared – a pathetic shell of a man, really – to do anything about it. He rolls over and lets Hesher own the house, as the only other occupant is TJ’s mentally ill grandmother. Hesher, however, tries to teach TJ how to be a man. His anarchy helps TJ grow up in some unconventional ways – from dealing with bullies to coping with his mother’s death to an “it’ll never happen” crush on Natalie Portman’s character, TJ is going through a lot at the time.
Without giving away anything else about the plot – which is a lot thicker and better put-together than I was anticipating – I can say that the movie was simply more impressive than I expected. It was sad – it was a really fucking sad movie – but it also had more than its fair share of laughs. Wilson does a great job of playing a pathetic father, and Portman, as always, shines in her role. She doesn’t dominate the scenes she’s in, playing off Gordon-Levitt (who easily steals the show) very well, and although she could be considered a secondary character, there aren’t too many characters in this movie so she still stands out. I would call this movie her Garden State, but, uh, you know, she was in that movie too. It’s nice to see her dressed like a hipster, though.
This film is a great directing debut from Spencer Susser. How he managed to get such a cast on his first feature-length film is beyond me, but he definitely used the pieces perfectly. Hesher is a kick in the teeth of more traditional black comedies, mixing a good storyline and complex characters with explosions, metal music, bad tattoos and Natalie Portman. What else could you really ask for?
|Tags: movie review, hesher