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Sundance: ‘Hesher’ lives up to expectations

January 27th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

Review and photo by Ben Hansen
Special to Hard News Cafe

PARK CITY–One of the early, most-sought films in this year’s Sundance film festival was Hesher. With an all-star cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Devin Brochu, and Rainn Wilson, anticipation levels for director Spencer Susser’s new film were high.

This movie provided a unique window of perspective as T.J. (Brochu) and his father (Wilson) are dealing with the loss of their mother/wife, while the uninvited guest, Hesher (Gordon-Levitt), continues to intervene into their lives and complicate things. All the while, T.J. continues to deal with his emotional instability while being bullied by multiple sources.

Enter Portman’s character Nicole, a grocery store clerk who provides friendship and compassion to T.J. after defending him. Events take yet another twist, with T.J. developing a crush on Nicole, which complicates things even further, as Hesher dishes out heaping portions of off-color ridicule because of T.J.’s recent infatuation.

As the story progresses, it takes on several different elements including sex, love, explosions, and lots of metal music enroute to an unpredictable and very different ending. While the plot can seem a little jumbled at times, the on-screen events and strength of the cast help guide the story through.

The constant onslaught of vulgarities by Hesher was at times grating, however, Gordon-Levitt’s performance was exceptional. His stoic composure, mixed with insane-rocker attitude, bred the perfect antagonist for this film. His monologues left audience members laughing at times, yet very uncomfortable and squirming in their seats at others. Mix this with stellar interaction and stand alone-acting by the young Brochu and this made for a compelling story.

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