• SumoMe

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Hesher (2010). Photo: ©HESHER PRODUCTIONS.

In perhaps the most surprisingly good movie I’ve seen all year, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Hesher: a violent, stoically-angry, pyromaniac, womanizing degenerate with a good heart who comes across a boy named T.J., who is recently grieving the loss of his mother in a car wreck. Hesher becomes the boy’s satanic guardian angel–responsible for both his demise and safety.

Hesher grows on you like a disease. You want to hate him as much as his hair is long, but he just keeps coming back to find a way to fix a situation so he can destroy it a second time. I watched this movie and had a soft spot for Hesher–yes, he took over a grieving family’s home by threatening to cut off noses with pruning shears–but that’s beside the point. Hesher is a loner who perhaps wants to belong. He sought out the companionship of a naive grandmother which showed his compassion for humans while still touching on his inability or unwillingness to function in society.

My favorite moments in the film are when Hesher lets his guard down and appears to say something pedestrian but almost prophetic–but never connects the last dot, or rather does but would rather not finish his thought for fear of exposing a sensitivity. The final scene in the movie (don’t want to give out any spoilers) is a great example of this, and is one of the more powerful scenes. Hesher was sent here for a reason, but that reason is left up to the viewer to figure out.

Gordon-Levitt plays Hesher (a character inspired by Cliff Burton the Metallica drummer) superbly and without hesitation. I didn’t know what to expect from this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Apparently, the movie utterly failed in the box office, costing $7 million to make and only bringing in gross revenues of just shy of $400,000. Nevertheless, financial success does not always dictate artistic success and perhaps this movie will gain a cult following after a few years in the same manner as The Big Lebowski.

If you’re looking for a different scenario in a movie while still incorporating some familiar faces (I didn’t even mention Rainn Wilson or Natalie Portman were in this film) I strongly recommend Hesher.