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Sympathy for Misfits in Hesher

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Hesher
Directed by Spencer Susser
Wrekin Hill Entertainment
Opens May 13

Spencer Susser’s initially rousing Hesher introduces an engimatic stranger into a fractured family with equivocally redemptive results. The titular tattooed pyromaniac (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) crashes the grotty L.A. home of Paul Forney (Rainn Wilson) after a tussle with the latter’s bullied teenage son, T.J. (Devin Brochu), and stirs up the grief and resentment simmering there from a recent family tragedy. T.J.’s live-in grandmother (Piper Laurie) and a do-gooder grocery clerk (Natalie Portman) try to shake father and son from their mutual funk, but only the expulsive, potty-mouthed metal-head makes a dent. Susser’s take on this venerable subgenre—think Teorema without the politics or a lactation-free Visitor Q, both of which Susser seems to be referencing here—excels at dodging the question of whether Hesher is flesh and blood or a pubescent misfit’s cheaply menacing id-phantom, but lets the raw surprise of Hesher’s first third bog down in knotty plotting to the point of self-parody (the slo-mo climax is especially awkward). Still, Hesher finds uncommon sympathy for people at loose ends, and although Hesher himself is sentimentalized and backhandedly inspiring, he never softens into an actual role model. For better or worse, he remains what he is—and if there’s a lesson here (and rest assured there is) it’s that life typically offers few other options.

 
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2 comments
Dave
Dave

How could a phantom id drive a van?

starumbra
starumbra

The review of this movie is why I do not like to read reviews before I see a movie; the film is about the story, which unfolds amidst the awful cruelty of life, those times when the bad things just keep happening. It's the violent that rips one out of the pain

 

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