Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Bronchu, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie, Natalie Portman ♥
Comment: "A film that's about as erratic and unpredictable as its title character..."
T.J (Devin Bronchu) is a middle-school boy who has recently lost his mother, further exacerbating the feeling of loneliness he had always felt. Now living with his grief-stricken and pill-abusing father (Rainn Wilson) and also his absent-minded grandmother (Piper Laurie), T.J spends his days terrified of reality, instead seeks to live in the comfort of past memories. Everything changes when he crosses paths with Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a vagrant young man prone to violence.
What to Expect1. A stereotypical movie involving a rebel2. Some solid performances here3. A rather ambiguous approach to storytelling
What NOT to Expect1. The Breakfast Club2. Or 10 Things I Hate About You
I've been looking forward to seeing this movie for quite some time, and it was certainly worth the wait. One can't help but approach it with all these preconceived thoughts, more than ready to draw comparisons between this movie and countless of others that featured a delinquent who ended up being a really nice guy who was just grossly misunderstood. Or as I like to call it; an asshole with a heart of gold.
Remember the late Heath Ledger's character in 10 Things I Hate About You ? (which coincidentally also starred Gordon-Levitt) Well, I'm happy to inform you that there's none of that going on in this movie.
You see, oftentimes we see a rebellious character in movies who ended up being so likable, you wonder why was he ostracised in the first place. But Hesher here is nothing like that. Despite having some good qualities of his own, he's a genuinely disturbing character with questionable moral values and ethics. Not to mention, very very violent. As unlikely as it may have seemed, pretty boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt was absolutely fantastic as Hesher.
Now, I did say the character was violent. But cast away any ideas about seeing some Friday the 13th shit here, it's not a horror/slasher movie. The character was violent, but only by our everyday standards. I feel like it's important to point this out just so you won't get the wrong idea. This movie is an intriguing drama, no less, no more.
Now, to reserve all praise to this Hesher character would not do the film justice because, well... The movie was not entirely about him. Heck, he didn't even hog the screen time. Scroll up and read the synopsis a second time if you need to, you'll see that the movie is really about a boy coming to terms with the loss of his mother.
Which brings us to the other major characters in the movie. It's an odd, eclectic choice of characters who inexplicably ended up being in the same movie, with all of them not really knowing what to do with each other. If you ask me, this has got to be the best thing about the movie.
There's just something about the storytelling, you won't be spoon-fed with everything but there's no way you could lose track of it. A remarkable feat once you consider that this movie is filled with characters who wants to spend as little time as possible with each other, the only exception being Nicole, played by the ever-so-lovely Natalie Portman.
Even more remarkable, the story is about as predictable as the erratic Hesher himself, which is to say it wasn't.
Should you see it?
This movie is entirely character-driven, which means it wasn't a bunch of people exchanging dialogues while waiting for a tragedy or some sort to react to. Instead, the characters here evolved based on how they interacted with each other. Depending on how you interpret that, it will either be very engaging, or very very dull.