T.J., a high school freshman, lost his mother two months before in a car accident: his father pops pills and sits on the couch; his grandmother holds things together, chatting and cooking. T.J. wants the car back from the salvage yard where the owner's son is a bully. By happenstance, Hesher, a foul-mouthed squatter, moves in with T.J's family. T.J. also meets Nicole, a grocery clerk near poverty who helps him once. Hesher involves T.J. in crime, the bully is omnipresent, mom's car is slipping away, dad has checked out, T.J. watches Nicole at work, and his grandma invites him to join her morning walk: the odds are long that T.J. can assemble a family to help him thrive. Written by
In the scene where Hesher criticizes T.J. for not taking walks with his grandmother, the man who he refers to that rapes old women was actually serial killer Albert DeSalvo, more commonly known as the "Boston Strangler." See more »
The cuts on TJ's face from the wrecking yard are on his left side when he falls and leaves, but he has them on his left side and they're already done scabbing and look like scars when Nicole (Natalie Portman) shows up at TJ's house the next day to apologize. See more »
I pulled this gas tank from an old Chevy. I wanted to blow it up, so I did. What I didn't think about was all the little bits of metal that were going to fly out in every direction. I almost killed myself. I woke up in this hospital and this doctor was like, "Son..." and I said "Don't call me son, you fucking cunt." And he was like, "You blew off your nut." pause I just lost my nut, like that. I went fucking crazy. I assaulted a nurse or a doctor, I don't really remember. I got arrested. I went...
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Strong performances in a surprisingly well-done character study.
It's hard to really describe a movie like Hesher. At first it comes off as this bizarre comedy, but as the film goes along it becomes more and more this character study of a chaotic force coming into the life of a family that needs it more than they think. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's titular character is a psychopath, a heavy metal loving maniac who uses foul language at the most inappropriate times, flies off the handle with violence and pyromania and generally frightens anyone who sees him. He invites himself into the home of the Forneys without a word and no one tells him to leave or, more realistically, calls the police.
This concept is a little off-putting at first and gave me some slight trouble getting into the story, but once the film started to develop it became more and more...honest, in a strange way. They didn't tell him to leave because subconsciously they knew that they needed him. At first it seems like he's there for a home and a place to do laundry (the character is introduced living in a construction site) but later on we realize that he doesn't need them at all. He's a drifter in the wind, somehow helping these people that he comes into contact with despite initially seeming like the worst person you would ever want around. The concept is still a little too bizarre and the final act gets way too melodramatic and schmaltzy, but the film hit me a lot more honestly and emotionally than I was expecting it too.
I've always admired Levitt as one of the finest actors of his generation, but even I didn't think he could pull off a role like this. Boy, I was wrong to doubt him, because he is on fire the whole way through. Hilarious, terrifying and somehow heartfelt, he makes this character incredibly real, which is probably the biggest surprise of all. Natalie Portman also manages to impress in a supporting role as a shopgirl that Hesher and our young protagonist T.J. (a mature child performance from Devin Brochu) come into contact with. She grounds the film in some ways, being the most honest and human character, and she has a breakdown in her car with T.J. that is pretty wrenching.
I'm always kind of off-put by films where people in their late twenties somehow befriend ten year-olds and no one calls the police or anything, but this is one of the rare ones that allowed me to get past that initial gripe and eventually respect it for the solid character study that it is.
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