Hesher is a pretty odd movie. I'd heard nothing about it before it came in, and sometimes that's a very good thing. I watch pretty much everything that comes into work, and I must admit this is better than most, but still, quite weird.
Hesher's plot revolves around a broken family. T.J. (Devin Brochu) and his father (Rainn Wilson) are grieving over the loss of their mother in a car accident. T.J. is being mercilessly bullied by a guy at school while his father sinks into a deep depression. But then along comes Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a metal loving dude who pretty much lives in his van. Upon seeing T.J. in trouble, he takes it upon himself to move into the family home and inflict his unique brand of therapy upon the residents, forcing them to face up to the facts and begin to movie on with their lives.
I say "unique", but Hesher's tactics are a little sporadic at best. Basically he acts like a total dick throughout the whole movie, with only a few spurts of understanding or helpful behaviour. He swears, threatens, smashes things up, perhaps his way of helping this family cope is to just completely mess up their stuff. Then when he moves out they'll just be happy he's gone.
The performances are all pretty good. Wilson shows a different side of his Dwight persona by playing a depressed recluse to good effect, and Gordon-Levitt is just as great as he has proven to be over recent years. Natalie Portman turns in a good role as a girl that T.J. and Hesher befriend on their journey together. Perhaps the best performance comes from Brochu. He plays the foul mouthed, grieving boy very well indeed.
Despite the performances, Hesher seems like a movie that doesn't really know what it's doing. It's unclear why Hesher starts intervening, or even what he's doing to help, and I suppose that could be open to interpretation, but mostly there just seems to be no clear direction that this movie is taking. Hesher certainly can be entertaining, there's just no real message to take home at the end.
My rating: 3/5