How I saved Hesher from the bargain bin
Usually I just pass it, turning my eyes in a different direction. I can’t bear seeing all those labours of love, the dreams and ambitions that once were, in this shape. Ruled out as close to unsellable. Broken and tossed away like a piece of junk with a price tag equalling a chocolate bar.
Of course most of those movies are crap and nothing that I’d care for to own – not even if they gave it to me for free. They’d end up as dust collectors, nothing I’d want to invest my precious time in watching.
However there is always this chance that somewhere in that mess there’s a hidden gem, a movie that undeservedly is rotting away together with movies that it wouldn’t come near under other circumstances. At the film graveyard everyone’s an equal, regardless of the amount of festival awards or how it made on the box office.
So sometimes I stop at the miserable heap to make a quick dig-through. Perhaps I can find a movie interesting enough to be saved from the humiliation, a film that I can give a little bit of love, a viewing and a new home in my bookshelf.
It was during one of those excavation sessions that I laid my eyes on Hesher. My spontaneous reaction was that this was not one of the movies that needed to get out of that bin.
The cover did very little to impress me. I’m sure that blogs and websites such as “Gordon and the Whale”, “Cinematical” and “Hollywood and Fine” are decent places. But when that’s the best sources you can come up with for selling quotes, it triggers my warnings systems.
Not to speak of the quotes! “Everyone , it would seem, needs a Hesher in their lives”. What kind of statement is that? But I understand why they cut it there and just there, because when I looked up this particular quote, at Hollywood & Fine, I found what came next:
“Everyone, it would seem, needs a Hesher in their lives. Although not necessarily “Hesher.” Though Spencer Susser’s dark comedy hangs in there for about half of its running time, it eventually runs out of ideas and goes soft, when it’s been hard-edged from the jump.”
No wonder they shortened the quote! Not that it managed to sell anything to me.
There was only one reason that made me decide to buy the film. His name is Joseph Gordon Levitt. On the cover he looks pretty ridiculous, dressed in a huge wig, with the intention to make him look like a heavy metal guy, but which rather makes you think of comedy and masquerades. But who cares? I knew that my 17 year old daughter with a crush wouldn’t. The happy smile she’d give me when I gave this to her would be worth far, far more than three bucks. Regardless if it was as crappy as the quotes indicated, I knew already that this was a bargain.
Hesher tells the story about a family in crisis, stuck in grief after the mother/wife has died in a car crash. One day a mysterious long haired guy named Hesher enters out of nowhere, becoming some kind of “friend” with the young boy in the family, T.J. Hesher does all sorts of things. In one scene he vandalizes the car of an obnoxious boy who has bullied TJ and you start feeling pretty good about him. He also has those nice little talks with T.J’s grandmother. But then he turns the other way round and behaves like an egotistical ass, not to be trusted. And you never get to know all that much about Hesher. He’s more like force of nature than a real person and sometimes I wonder if he actually exists at all or if he’s just a metaphor for… something, whatever.
Assuming that you don’t have a Joseph Gordon Levitt addicted daughter in your household, would I recommend you to dig out from the bottom of the sales bin to snatch a copy of this one? Well, to be honest it’s not a bad movie, but it’s not particularly good either. I happen to not have anything against indie quirkiness, but if you’re sensitive about such things, I suspect you might find it a little annoying.
The randomness of the Hesher character makes him fun to watch to begin with, but it also makes it hard to like him and all of this puts a distance between me and the grieving family. I can’t help comparing it to Rabbit Hole from last year, also about the grief after losing a family member. That movie went under my skin. The pain of the couple who had lost their son was real and heartbreaking. Watching Hesher I felt close to nothing since that Hesher guy was standing in the way.
I don’t want to be too hard on it though. This was a debut movie and I think the director did well enough to not only deserve to have his film rescued from the bin, but also to get the chance to make another one.
Hesher (Spencer Susser, US, 2010) My rating: 3/5