When I saw the stills from HESHER I was under the assumption that this movie would be a very intense drama. What we actually got was a film that cannot be placed into any genre of film and is so politically incorrect it would make Howard Stern blush. Please don’t get me wrong, this movie is fucking fantastic and I cant rave enough about it… a quarter of the way through the film I turned to AJ and told him this would easily be my favorite of the festival, if not the year. With an all star cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson and Natalie Portman there is very little that can go wrong.
The movie revolves around T.J. who is dealing with the loss of his mother who died in a car accident. He and his father Paul (Rainn Wilson) are forced to move in with his grandma because the death pretty much sidelines them. After a series of events T.J. comes to know of a metal head squatter known only as Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who forces himself into his life.When I say forces himself, I literally mean he moves in with T.J. at his grandmothers house.
Not only is T.J. having issues with Hesher, but the school bully also has it out for him and after a run in with him, he is saved by a grocery store clerk named Nicole (played by the amazing Natalie Portman), whom he also falls in love with. Without spoiling too much of the film (more than I already have), I will say that the rest of the plot is like a roller coaster ride that you don’t want to get off.
There are so many things in this movie that leave you scratching your head, and that’s part of what makes the movie so amazing. The fact that Hesher essentially moves into T.J.’s house without as much as asking the father or grandmother and is met with little to no resistance from either of them seems so far fetched that it would never happen but it just fits here. Add that in with all of Hesher’s stories that always have some type of deeper meaning despite them being somewhat unrelated.
Joseph Gordon Levitt gives one of the greatest performances of his career, playing Hesher. He is gritty, raw, unforgiving and in your face. He doesn’t care what you think, nor does he worry about any of the consequences to his actions. Gordon Levitt hasn’t played a character like that of Hesher, but damn… you truly understand just what kind of range he has if you didn’t before.
I was also pleasantly pleased with Rainn Wilson as the father Paul. There were several moments that he could have gone the Dwight Schrute route and been a little on the cheesy side but there are no moments in the film where you get that.
HESHER also features some of the best one liners in a film… ever. Here is a quote for you to drool over:
Hesher: Where’s the laundry room?
T.J.: You cant be in here.
Hesher: Have you ever been skull fucked?
Hesher: You want to?
I walked out of the screening smiling ear to ear with the knowledge that we just had our minds blown by director Spencer Susser. Susser had previously done a short called I LOVE SARAH JANE which is one of the coolest zombie concepts I’ve ever seen. He used some scenes and plot lines from I LOVE SARAH JANE in HESHER which made me super excited to see. Specner Susser is going to do amazing things, and I am pleased to say that I have been witness to one of the first.