Review: Hesher (2010)

Hesher (2010)

Directed by: Spencer Susser | 107 minutes | drama | Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Devin Brochu, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie, Brendan Hill, John Carroll Lynch, Monica Staggs, Mary Elizabeth Barrett, Audrey Wasilewski, Lyle Kanouse, Frank Collison, Van Epperson, Helen Slayton-Hughes, Paul Bates, Ralph P. Martin, Timothy Davis , Allan Graf, Brian Lally, Rafael J. Noble, Milt Kogan, Richard Susser, Barry Sigismondi

Is there anything Joseph Gordon-Levitt cannot do? He once started as a child star in the comedy series ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ in which, under the wing of John Lithgow, he rose to fame as Tommy Solomon. No one could have imagined that the endearing little boy with that girlish look and long black hair would grow into one of the best and most versatile actors of his generation, who dares to alternate roles in blockbusters such as ‘Inception’ (2010) with arthouse productions. as ‘Mysterious Skin’ (2004) and ‘Brick’ (2005). Gordon-Levitt also comes across in interviews as a sympathetic, down-to-earth boy who doesn’t like movie stardom and walks around Hollywood mainly because he loves acting very much. To emphasize once again how versatile he is, Gordon-Levitt made the film ‘Hesher’ (2010) shortly after the offbeat rom-com ‘(500) Days of Summer’ (2009) – in which he portrays a dreamy romantic. . The friendly young man he usually plays has suddenly turned into a maladjusted headbanger.

Long black hair that hangs in wisps down his face, a body plastered with vulgar tattoos. The mysterious Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) prefers to walk around in tight white underpants and nothing else. In the distance he does resemble Jesus, were it not for the fact that Hesher behaves rather rashly. He fills his day with eating, drinking, smoking weed, watching porn and trumpeting about both vile and hilarious anecdotes. Like a devil out of a box, he pops up in the life of the young teenager TJ (impressive debut by Devin Brochu), whose mother recently died in a serious car accident. The boy cannot go to his father (Rainn Wilson), who has fallen into a severe depression after the loss of his wife. His caring but confused grandmother (Piper Laurie) can’t help him either. And then suddenly there is Hesher, who invades his life unannounced and turns his world upside down. He keeps house in a devastating way, including by taking a hard look at TJ’s teaser (Brendan Hill). But whether he really wants the best for TJ; the boy himself has his doubts.

Quite a few bereavement films have been made, but few are as unconventional as ‘Hesher’. At its core, this is a fairly standard drama about coping with the loss of a loved one, but by adding the unruly title character – with his maladaptive behavior and remarkable way of communicating – debut writer/director Spencer Susser manages to deliver a particularly refreshing twist. to make of it. Is Hesher real or was he shot from young TJ’s imagination? If you pay close attention, you will discover that this clunky headbanger is a symbol of death, and TJ and his father must learn to deal with death. Grandma – fantastic role by good old Piper Laurie – is the only one who immediately accepts Hesher as he is and even builds a surprisingly touching friendship with him, which also produces a number of hilarious scenes. Is it because Grandma, who feels her end is approaching, is no longer afraid of death? It also explains Hesher’s destructive behavior. Gordon-Levitt based his character on Cliff Burton, Metallica bassist who was killed in a 1986 tour bus accident. In addition, music from the band – from the time with Burton – can be heard. That also gives the film an edge, a sharp edge.

‘Hesher’ is carried by the cast, who are strong across the board. Natalie Portman, who returns in indie mode with a role in line with her work in ‘Garden State’ (2004), is also convincing as TJ’s mousy cashier and dream woman. The actors carry the story, which loses power towards the end because the drama then slightly takes over and the film becomes more conventional. Although ‘Hesher’ offers an equally hilarious and bizarre speech from Gordon-Levitt towards the end, which shakes things up quite a bit. Of course you can comment on ‘Hesher’. Why doesn’t anyone kick that licentious good-for-nothing out of the house, for example? But overall this Spencer Susser debut is a great success. It takes guts to cast such a tragic history as this in an alienating guise and get away with it. Susser does it and can especially thank his on-going cast for that.

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