Hesher

SXSW Film Review

Hesher

Director: Spencer Susser, Writers: Spencer Susser & David Michôd
Loud music. Pornography. Burning shit down – just a few of Hesher’s favorite things. And it’s just this kind of anarchy that’s needed to shake the burdens of sorrow from a boy and his father.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie

WHO’S IT FOR? Anyone with both the patience (or taste) for both 80′s Metallica and art-house storytelling.

OVERALL

Hesher is an odd creature. Like its unpredictable title character, played with beautiful ruthlessness by a surprising Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the movie fluctuates with its severe tones, and in turn its unpredictability becomes captivating. At times the film can be quite sad, as unexpected loss glooms over the family in which Hesher randomly shacks up with. On the other hand, it can be hilariously crazy, with Gordon-Levitt’s character doing whatever the f**k he wants. (After completely trashing a piece of property, he simply walks away and says, “I have a doctor’s appointment.”)

With Metallica and Motorhead blaring in the soundtrack as signatures to Hesher’s unruly antics, Hesher quite successfully navigates a tone that is very much its own. The often pleasing camera work sucks the colors out of a mid-80’s L.A. Rainn Wilson provides a weepy performance as a widowed husband who literally fades away with the gloomy color palette of the movie. Devin Brochu provides a unique performance as a young boy being pulled by both grief and impending maturity, with some bizarre interactions of unflinching debauchery.

“He came, he ate, he stayed.” This is the tagline for the Phil Hartman and Sinbad comedy Houseguest, and it certainly shares poster ethos with Hesher. But unlike any movie of its type, whether it’s a film about grief or even of growing up, Hesher parades around with its own pride, messes with the audience’s expectations, invites them into the strange story, and then abruptly tells us to f**k off. Like a piss stain that will be on your rug forever, in his own unique way, Hesher is unforgettable.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

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