Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hesher Is Metal

      "Hesher" has been one of the most highly anticipated films at every festival it has played at, starting at last years Sundance, where it premiered. Also a film that I had been looking forward to, the second I saw a still from the film and even more so when the trailer was finally released. Every time I watched Joseph Gordon-Levitt leap into a filthy pool by way of flaming diving board it fuel my anticipation for this film. And it being such an independent and small film (it has over 20 producers), I knew it wouldn't get a proper release. So I would be stuck waiting for it on home video. Knowing all this only brought me down.

         But then a ray of hope shined through. "Hesher" would be playing at the wonderful Florida Film Festival. Whose lineup this year was pretty damn impressive. So we made the trek to Orlando for a full day of fantastic films. We started with "Meek's Cutoff" (review of that later) and ended with "Hesher". There was a lot of stress in between, Like the fact when i looked up the times for "Hesher", it was sold out. Know this was quite upsetting for me, seeing as though this was the only reason I came this far. To see "Hesher". We had tickets. I'm not that big of a fool. But we had bought a ticket package, which would allow us entrance into two films. Turns out that even if you have these types of packages, you're fucked if you get there and it turns out to be sold out. I was none to happy with this. So we got our stand by tickets, which would allow us to buy tickets if five minutes before the start of the film people had not shown up. Long story short, people didn't show up, we got our tickets and they were...Wait for it... FREE! So everything worked out, I saw the film I had been waiting for and didn't pay a goddamn dime. Well, enough with the back story, on to the film.

      T.J. (played by Devin Brochu) lost his mother in a car crash two months ago and all he wants is the car his mother died in. During one of his attempts to retrieve this car, he has an unfortunate run in with 
Hesher. Played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hesher doesn't have much to speak of. No family, no friends, no home and no job. By the looks of it, he likes it that way. Seeing as though everyone he comes into contact with he immediately drives them away. Whether it be with his filthy mouth, a threat on their lives or his seemingly never ending supply of gasoline, M80's and matches.

      That's exactly how we (and T.J.) are introduced to Hesher, obscenities flying, along pipe bombs and bad ass 80's metal. From that moment on T.J's life will not be the same. With T.J's mistake of ruining his current living quarters, Hesher feels it appropriate to move into T.J's garage. T.J's father, Frank (played by Rainn Wilson), Zonked out on medication to help with the death of his wife, barely notices Hesher. If it wasn't for the initial questioning of his presence, you'd be led to believe that Hesher is all in T.J's head.But sadly for the family, this is not the case.

       The performance by Brochu as T.J. is wonderful. Spiced in between the angry outbursts fueled by Hesher, we are able to see that this young boy is still scared and heartbroken by the loss of his mother. It's never really spoken about, but you can see it in his subtle heart wrenching facial expressions. As his world around him falls apart, he stills knows what's right and wrong. And even though his father's comatose couch potato routine seems good in theory, he knows it's not the way to get the family back on track. Wilson plays the depressed dad beautifully, the pain in his face is like none I've ever seen, especially from an actor who been mostly stuck in comic roles. So if you're looking for Dwight Schrute, you've come to the wrong place. As for Natalie Portman, playing a grocery store clerk that T.J. has a "slight" crush on. Despite the fact that she is much older, and knowing he has eyes for her, she plays along, lending to some very sweet moments between the two and giving T.J. a small ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark point in his life.

      As for Levitt, he explodes (literally) on the screen as Hesher. Gone are the lovable, charming and charismatic characters we're used to him playing. Now we see a completely different side of him. One who chain smokes, can't speak a sentence without it being riddled with expletives, no matter who he's speaking to. Whether it be a young boy, his father or a sweet old lady. Hesher is Hesher and no one's going to change that. With no back story or explanation as to why he acts this way, Levitt burns through scene after scene acting like a complete asshole. Which is fun, but at some point you're just hoping for some shred of humanity in this loathsome human being. Just some excuse as to why he's such a prick. But it never fully comes. It gets close a few times, and just when we're close to an honest heartfelt moment Hesher ruins it.
      Susser successfully blends comedy and drama, in this unconventional, tough to pigeonhole film. What it lacks in plot, it is made up by great performances, some subtle, some too in your face. This film does have a heart, some where deep down. It's there, you just have to find it.
      I can see a bunch of young, future anarchists latching on to this film and the character, so get on board with this flick before it's deemed uncool to be.

This is one of the official trailer, and I feel it's more true to the content of the film.  This is the other.



  1. Whoa, this looks great. I'll be checking Hesher out. Nice work, duder.

  2. Thanks man, appreciate it. It's a pretty funny film, that's something i completely overlooked in the review. Mostly funny from the stuff that comes out of Hesher's mouth.