Title: Hesher (USA, 2010) ★★★½ (out of 5)
Director: Spencer Susser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie
Date Viewed: May 13, 2011
Summary: Loud music. Pornography. Burning shit to the ground. These are a few of Hesher’s favorite things. And they are what Hesher brings into the lives of TJ and his father, Paul when he takes up residence in their garage uninvited. Grief-stricken by the loss of TJ’s mother in a car accident, Paul can’t muster the strength to evict the strange squatter, and soon the long-haired, tattooed Hesher becomes a fixture in the household. Like a force of nature, Hesher’s anarchy shakes the family out of their grief and helps them embrace life once more. (Summary found here)
"Hesher" is a strange movie. It’s not light-hearted enough to be a comedy, but there are too many laughs for it be seen purely as a drama. I admit that I do get overly emotionally invested in movies all the time, and I’m already a huge sucker for antiheroes, but "Hesher" was a different experience than any other movie I’ve ever seen. It was a package of humor, disgust, heartbreak, and frustration all rolled into one. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I squirmed. The script stumbled a bit, and a bit of tweaking with the color-correction and sound editing was clearly needed, but overall, the directing and cinematography was just as chaotic as the eponymous character - and I mean that in the best possible way. Ass-kicking performances throughout, and mad props to Devin Brochu, who was only 12 years old when the movie was filmed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s typical smugness that made me want to punch his character in the face in "500 Days of Summer" actually worked miracles in "Hesher", and Rainn Wilson gave a surprisingly strong performance as a grieving father.
I met the director, Spencer Susser, a few weeks ago, and I still can’t believe that such a loud, offensive movie came out of the mind of such a soft-spoken guy, but I’m so, so happy it did. Obviously, Hesher isn’t for everyone - if you can’t stomach graphic metaphors from the mouth of a bong-ripping, farting, child-endangering anarchist guru about exploded testicles and overwhelming five-somes, or if you’re a self-proclaimed cinephile who has ‘sophisticated’ (or extremely pretentious) tastes in films with otherworldly, ‘deep’ meaning, it’s likely that you won’t be able to sit through most of this movie. But for those who enjoy the uncouth and can repress their nausea long enough for Hesher to redeem himself, this movie is well-worth a trip to the theater.