At the moment the disc went into the DVD player, it occurred to this reviewer that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has either been extremely lucky, or he and/or his agent are geniuses when it comes to selecting the next movie role. Gordon-Levitt is in good with Chris Nolan after “Inception”, and now will be in the final part of Nolan’s epic ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy. But even before he was involved in major summer blockbusters, the young actor made wise choices in the indie circuit as well with such films as “Brick”, “The Lookout”, and the slightly more familiar “(500) Days of Summer.” Had he yet to take a role in a bad film?
Well, “Hesher” then comes along to make that answer a possible ‘yes.’ As the title character, Gordon-Levitt plays a long-haired degenerate who spends most of his time without his shirt on. He’s jobless, but somehow finds money to fill up his rusty(not rustic) van with gas. After young T.J. ends up riding his bike by the construction site Hesher is squatting in, attracting the attention of the police, Hesher follows him to his house and squats there instead. He’s able to do so because it’s a house of indifference.
T.J.’s mother just died, so he’s free to roam the streets and do what he wants while his over-medicated father(Rainn Wilson) sleeps the day away on the couch at home. It’s T.J.’s grandmother’s house, and while she sees the trouble the child and his father are going through, she’s far too senile to do anything about it: it appears that Alzheimer’s, or at least her accumulating years, are slowly doing her in. Therefore, there isn’t much objection raised when Hesher enters the picture-and the home. He claims to be a friend of T.J.’s, but it’s hard to say that the relationship between the characters in “Hesher” isn’t the exact opposite of what a friendship should be.
With Hesher, Gordon-Levitt plays it straight and serious; this isn’t the comic hippie type that seems predominant in indie comedies. The script merely hints at another level of depth, and just when it’s about to make a point it deviates into some sort of genital humor(the film actually does it on two separate occasions). Why the screenplay seems to back off each time it’s about to get under the skin of the characters is hard to say, but it’s not a wise decision. It makes “Hesher” appear to be somewhat of a dark comedy that is built on quirks just for the sake of being quirky. If it has something more to say, it certainly doesn’t want to share with the rest of the group. “Hesher” isn’t necessarily a truly bad film. But when a film asks the audience to buy-in to a character as it plays out, the audience at least has to have a decent idea of what they are giving their feelings to.
“Hesher” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and is available at redbox kiosks throughout McHenry County.