‘Hesher’ DVD Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Gets Down ‘n Dirty

katieholland September 21, 2012 1
‘Hesher’ DVD Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Gets Down ‘n Dirty
  • Fantastic Cast
  • JGL
  • Plot Development
  • Uniqueness
  • Underlying Conflict
Director: Spencer Susser
Producers: Lucy Cooper, Natalie Portman, Spencer Susser
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson
Writers: Spencer Susser, David Michod
Cinematographer: Morgan Susser
Editor: Michael McCusker, Spencer Susser
Music: Francois Tetaz

Unlike any movie I’ve seen in the past five years, Hesher was certainly a breath of fresh air in terms of plots. The entire style was completely unique to what has been produced lately. From story lines and character development to the overall flow, there wasn’t a single boring moment. There are certainly moments when you ask yourself, ”What the hell is  going on?”,  but soon after, your questions are answered as the action unfolds.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivered a performance to remember as Hesher, the hairy vulgar badass who befriends T.J. — a young boy who recently lost his mother in a car accident. T.J. is having trouble coping with his mother’s death. Living with his father, who is using pills to ease his pain, and his grandmother, who just wants them to be a family again, doesn’t make matters any better. On top of it all, the school bully has decided to make T.J. his most recent target. It’s at that point when Hesher decides to take the troubled youngster under his wing. With good intentions, T.J.’s mentor leads him into several precarious situations.

The Good

The Cast

Pairing the lovely Natalie Portman opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s grungy character was a perfect parallel that added some authenticity to the plot. Seeing Portman in such a normal role was pretty cool. She wasn’t a prima ballerina, a princess, or a pushy scientist; she just played a normal girl working her way through school at the local grocery store in a hooptie. Her charm and bravery wins you over immediately.

Then there’s Rainn Wilson. He portrays the pill-popping dad whose wife’s death has beaten him down the most. In a fresh but unlikely role, Wilson captures the raw emotions of suffering and anguish extraordinarily well. Each actor brings you into the movie a little more than the last. By the end you are left drained, which is the way I like it.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

So good, the man deserves his own category. His portrayal of Hesher, a character who lives by his own rules and doesn’t take no for an answer, was fantastic. Hesher’s idea of helping T.J. includes moving into his house and becoming part of the family, which at first made me believe he was an imaginary friend. His abrupt entrances and exits were ghost-like. JGL had me in awe with some of his crude behavior since normally he is the straight-laced nice guy. In Hesher we get a taste of his nasty side, and let me tell you it makes me love him even more. Bordering friend and foe, you start to question Hesher’s sanity as he puts T.J. up to some pretty steep challenges. Next year, Gordon-Levitt’s starring in Don Jon’s Addiction — a flick where he plays a porn addict. I can only hope he brings back some of this grime for that film.

Plot Development

From the start you are hit with all the information you need as you need it, making the story progress rapidly. One second T.J. is riding his bike home from school, and the next he is getting beat up in a grocery store parking lot. You can’t complain that there isn’t enough going on in the story because director Spencer Susser keeps you entertained while introducing key plot points. Several moments are so raw and intense that you’ll feel scared for the characters. Whether it be Hesher’s antics or T.J.’s infatuation with the car his mother died in, rest  assured, you’ll have plenty to mull over once the credits roll. In true punk rock fashion the film’s ending could either make you laugh, or gross you out.


Never before have I seen anything quite like Hesher. In every aspect I was surprised to see how well Susser and writer David Michod executed the story. The music, which paralleled Hesher’s persona, played a huge role in the tone of things. Nothing Hesher does make sense at the time, and then all of a sudden you’ll start to understand. I urge fans of Memento and Requiem For A Dream to check this one out.

The Okay

Underlying Plot

While I loved everything about the characters, I couldn’t help but notice the actual reason behind the action wasn’t as spectacular as the rest of the movie. However, once I sat back, moved past the lack of “umph”, and realized how epic of a movie it was, I enjoyed Hesher even more. It’s not as deep as it pretends to be, which is part of what attracts me.

Buy It, Rent It, or Skip It?

Personally, I think I’m gonna buy Hesher. But as a precautionary, I would suggest renting it first as this may not be your cup of tea. My friends and I really enjoyed the vulgarity of the film, but some others might not think so highly of it. Hesher is definitely worth a look for any Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan as the main character differs greatly from his previous roles.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

‘Hesher’ Movie Trailer

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Radu-Ştefan-RS/100002842682829 Radu Ştefan RS

      I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt! He’s a very good actor! The role that he’s interpreting seems to be quite a challenge… Hesher is a symbol of a washed up, deadbeat guy… It’s not as heartbreaking as Requiem for a Dream, but it gets the job done. Congrats on the review!