Heavy metal. Pornography. Moving into people's homes without asking for permission. Blowing shit up. These are among Hesher's favorite things to do. Sometimes, that's just what the doctor ordered. Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu, Rainn Wilson and Natalie Portman, is a refreshingly unique and alluring drama-comedy.
Gordon-Levitt plays the force to be reckoned with known as Hesher, a long-haired, unshaven, tattooed, foul-mouthed, pyromaniac and often shirtless punk who may or may not be a sociopath, but who nonetheless serves as unconventional angel for a family in distress. Young Brochu plays T.J., a kid who discovers guidance through Hesher's destructive ways.
If you're still not sure what Hesher is about, there's a reason: the movie has to be seen to be understood.
The movie is by no means perfect, but Hesher is a deliciously fun tale where the protagonist has no boundaries, allowing the audience to live vicariously through him. It's at once utterly serious and darkly humorous; director and co-writer Spencer Susser zeroes in on the fine line between those two genres and delivers wholeheartedly, betraying neither aspect of his story. It's tough to pull off, but Susser's title character never relents, allowing the drama to unfold while always countered by Hesher's unwavering approach to life.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is wickedly good. I will continue to insist that Gordon-Levitt is one of Hollywood's most underrated stars; he's a talented actor with baby face good looks and a willingness to tackle any kind of role. Hesher is Gordon-Levitt's most ambitious role yet and he embraces it fully, going 180-degrees from his clean cut performance in last year's Inception.
Rainn Wilson proves once again he'll have a career beyond "The Office", as his performance is notably un-Dwight Schrute-like. Natalie Portman isn't utilized as much as I would have liked, but she too plays against type.
Most importantly, Devin Brochu more than holds his own against Gordon-Levitt. T.J. is the main character, and Brochu brings him to life with a fierce performance that should guarantee him roles for years to come.
Hesher isn't for anyone, but with great performances - especially from Gordon-Levitt and Devin Brochu - and a no-holds-bar take on a story about grief and loss, it is one of the most refreshing movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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