The Films of 2011 – #8 Hesher
Counting down to number 8, we find indie comic drama HESHER. The debut feature by Spencer Susser, and co-produced by Natalie Portman (who also stars). It’s one of those “everyone’s a bit disfunctional but some magic realism will make everything better” sorts of films that is typified by the likes of Little Miss Sunshine or Win Win.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (making a dangerous habit of just being excellent in every role he undertakes) stars as the titular Hesher. I must admit my own ignorance of that slang, but the Urban Dictionary helpfully describes a Hesher as a “Long haired, usually mulleted person who listens and rocks out to Metal or Thrash music. Generally seen wearing acid-washed jeans, leather motorcycle or denim jacket covered with band and skull patches. Will often have a Molester Moustache” . . a description which couldn’t be more accurate.
Anyway, plot-wise, a bereaved husband (Rainn Wilson) & his son “TJ” live with their dotty old grandma – the loss of their wife/mother is still relatively recent and the emotional scars are still fresh. TJ’s frustration and impotent rage finds itself vented through minor misdemeanours. . . and then Hesher materialises, seemingly from nowhere. He moves in, literally makes himself at home and then proceeds to spend the rest of the film generally being a chaotic force of nature, ordering the hapless and rudderless family around, dispensing nuggets of four-letter-worded wisdom and stoned duderisms that betray cold hard truths…Case in point: “Life is like walking in the rain… you can hide and take cover or you can just get wet.” Yea, right on man.
Effectively giving each character a cold hard slap around the face, the family slowly begin to appreciate the honesty and insight that only a self-serving arrogant asshole could dispense.
Hesher is a disturbing and hilarious character, a bizarre mixture of Beavis & Butthead, Forrest Gump and Mary Poppins, Gordon-Levitt gleefully inhabits the character – burning shit just for the hell of it, smashing up cars, rawking out in his beaten up crapped out old van, and basically doing whatever the hell he likes.. and getting away with it.
Perhaps a bit of a hard sell to some audiences, the film is heartfelt & touching whilst also being crude, offensive, violent at times and of course profoundly unique, sporting an excellent cast, flawless direction, and some genuine depth bubbling away under the surface. Oh, and whilst I must admit I’m no fan of metal, the largely Metallica-based soundtrack will have you head-banging away with the best of them.
Have a look at the trailer, and get ready to rock out with your cock out..
Hesher is available on US Import from Amazon right now, with a UK dvd scheduled for February..
Please come back at the same time tomorrow to see my pick for Film #7 of 2011. Try not to get any home-made tattoos in the meantime.
The Clockwork Shorts 2011 retrospective can be browsed for your pleasure right HERE