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As the title character in Hesher, Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears a grungy fright wig and anarchic death-metal attitude to match. He's worlds away from the suave, immaculately groomed covert operative he played in Inception. But what's consistent in both performances and the thing that gives the über-indie and perhaps overly nihilistic Hesher its punch is Gordon-Levitt's sleek, leonine physicality. Hesher is a mysterious, violent, rude, yet affectingly empathetic drifter who appears in the life of 13-year-old T.J., his depressed father, and ailing grandmother, all of whom are grieving the recent death of the boy's mother. Hesher drives a beat-up black van and sleeps in vacant houses (until he moves uninvited into T.J.'s garage), popping in and out of the action at random and seemingly just to bring more chaos into the life of T.J. and his family. Whether Hesher is what the family needs to unscrew itself from the funk of extreme dysfunction caused by their communal tragedy is something first-time writer-director Spencer Susser tries hard to work out, and not always with complete success. It's a tough and very messy narrative that runs dangerously close to mawkishness, but for the vicious outbursts of brutality, aggression, and deep-seated emotional pain lying just beneath everyone's surface. Hesher is the catalyst, and fortunately Gordon-Levitt's physical grace is extraordinarily compelling as he pushes and punishes his lithe body in complete commitment to the role. This is a severely damaged soul who's probably beyond redemption himself, but understands that he still has something to give that might be of aid to someone else. As the primary beneficiary of the salvation on offer, Devin Brochu is an impressive little brother-like match as T.J., even as he's constantly exposed to the physical danger that's a by-product of being in proximity to Hesher (kudos to the tiny stunt double who gets tossed around like a rag doll). The rest of the cast do their best to keep up with the bedlam. Rainn Wilson is stretching some little-used actorly muscles as the near-catatonic dad for whom something must change, and Natalie Portman looking positively frumpy as a down-and-out ragamuffin who crosses paths with both T.J. and Hesher seems also to be trying to put a shine on her indie cred. Piper Laurie's turn as the obese, uncomprehending grandmother is a poignant peak in her long career and a character that's integral to the changes everyone else experiences, most especially Hesher himself. --Ted Fry
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Top Customer Reviews
After T.J. smashes a window of a house where Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is crashing, their paths become entwined. Hesher follows him in the best stalker style and decides he will just move in. The first thing he does is strip off and do his laundry followed by making an illegal cable hook up so they can get more TV channels ' especially of the more adult variety.
T.J. is dealing with ghosts and bullies in equal measure and that leads to a chance meeting with supermarket cashier Nicole (Natalie Portman). T.J. bonds with her but Hesher is never too far away. He has an unhealthy like for profanity, porn, Metallica and arson; an ideal house guest you might say. Therfore not the sort of friend a young boy should really be associated with. What happens though is that the more mayhem he creates the more he breaks the catharsis of grief that is holding every body back.
This film does not stick to any convention, it is totally unpredictable and that is the essence of Hesher himself. There are no real pretty actors everything is seemingly low rent but with real people and it is so refreshing for that. Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to take on challenging roles and make interesting and well crafted cinema and is one of those actors who can be relied upon to make viewing, anything he is in, worthwhile.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This was the worst movie I've ever seen in a long time. Very slow and boring, bad acting (except for Joseph).Published on April 5 2013 by Mitchell Weber
I have no idea why I bought this. Maybe because I am a metallica fan but other then the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a metal head who loves Metallica which I connected with... Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2013 by Brownstone