Filmfest 2011

Introduces an engimatic stranger into a fractured family with equivocally redemptive results. The titular tattooed pyromaniac crashes the grotty L.A. home of Paul Forney after a tussle with the latter’s bullied teenage son, T.J., and stirs up the grief and resentment simmering there from a recent family tragedy. T.J.’s live-in grandmother and a do-gooder grocery clerk 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, 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. 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. And if there’s a lesson here, it’s that life typically offers few other options. Mark Holcomb, The Village Voice

tags: Feature film

Cast: Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie, Devin Brochu


Director: Spencer Susser