Hesher (USA, 2011)

Directed by: Spenser Susser. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is climbing his way into the A-list of hot young studs. I imagine he sits in a waiting room to audition alongside Ryan Gosling fairly often. I’m not in love with the guy, but he’s doing some stuff these days, what with the last two Christopher  Nolan jams, and he’s not too bad overall. This one is a nice little quirky take on the sappy family melodrama. The family is reeling from the accidental death of the mother, and the son (Devin Brochu) and father, (Rainn Wilson from The Office), are left to “pick up the pieces.” Yada yada yada. JGL is Hesher, the crazy, stoic, headbanging wrench that gets thrown into their clockwork routine of sadness and dysfunction, and he shows them how to be whole again. It’s a remarkably familiar story, but somehow, from the sheer absurdity of the tone, the movie always feels like something fairly new. You’re frequently asking yourself: “wait a minute, what IS this?” But overall, it’s a pretty good little movie, with a few great laughs, and some solid turns from Natalie Portman and Piper Laurie (Twin Peaks, anyone?). This film didn’t make a huge impression me, I gotta say, but I suspect that it’s probably ripe for some kind of fairly deep critical-social-ideological deconstruction, which can be fun if you’re into that sort of thing.

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