Do you care about Hesher? That is the gamble independent films take when they create a movie focused around one unique character. A film like “The Guard” takes that fascinating character and puts a story around him where he can bounce off different people and situations. A film like “Get Low” has the character stand in the center of the premise while people comment on how peculiar he is.
“Hesher” is a bit in the middle with the meter leaning towards the latter. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a brilliant performance as the often shirtless and destructive man who appears like a metal Mary Poppins. The child in need is T.J. (Devin Brochu), a boy having trouble adjusting to the death of his mother. An obnoxious bully picks him on in school and his father (Rainn Wilson) is emotionally drained.
T.J. accidently wrecks Hesher’s living arrangement so Hesher decides to live in T.J.’s garage without permission. What follow is a series of misadventures with arson, profanity, and violence. Nobody needs to have dialog about Hesher’s behavior since it’s in your face the entire time. Every time he speaks or rants about a topic it’s ridiculous form of shock value. Since it draws so much attention to itself, it never feels organic. Gordon-Levitt never winks or romanticizes the character, which makes him feel real but only to a point.
Co-writer/director Spencer Susser knows how to create a believable and bleak world. Every corner seems dirty and even when he has a character like Nicole (Natalie Portman) who is a brighter element of hope, she is brought down by the weather around her. Seeing the character manage their surroundings can be satisfying like T.J.’s bike chase to catch a car that is being towed. Hesher is essentially a by-product of this world to the point where he should be declared king.
The fault of the movie is not properly being able to connect the world and its characters with a workable story. The payoff to its central mystery is so clichéd that it has been done several times already this year. Without any proper pokes from more external forces, the characters feel static. It undermines what the movie could be and that leaves a disappointing feeling all around.
The DVD has the usual batch of deleted scenes and outtakes. Don’t be worried they are too conservative with what they show. There are 28 minutes of mundane outtakes. There is a short featurette showing behind the scenes footage and a sketch gallery.
Film: 3 Yaps
Extras: 3 Yaps