Sunday, 9 February 2014

Review - Hesher (2010 - Dir. Spencer Susser)

After the first round finished at a stalemate between David Warbeck and Radha Mitchell, here's Natalie Portman's first attempt at goal. The thing with Portman is that randomly selecting a film from her filmography can bring up the delights of something like Black Swan or it can cause suicidal tendencies in the form of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium so I was vaguely relieved when Hesher came up. I can't say that I was particularly looking forward to it, but it could have been a lot worse.

A heavy metal comedy isn't really my cup of tea. I was expecting something alone the lines of Superbad but with Lemmy in the lead role. Plus I've never really liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt so it wasn't looking good for Portman especially since she's going up against the filmic behemoth that is Ellen Page. 

But I was quite pleasantly surprised by Hesher. It's not really an out and out comedy - the dvd cover quote of "Hilarious!" from Ain't It Cool News is going a tad overboard to say the least - it's more along the lines of hidden gem Garden State. It is funny in parts. The conversation about granny going out on a walk around the block and being raped has got to be a highlight, (okay, okay, that maybe sounds a bit harsh on my part but you have to see it in context). But for the rest of the time it works more as a drama.

TJ (Devin Brochu giving an excellent performance) is a young whipper-snapper who has recently lost his mum in a car accident. Him and his dad (Rainn Wilson) live with granny and are all dealing with the aftermath. TJ comes into contact with squatter Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) and accidentally makes him lose his squat. So without permission Hesher moves in with TJ for some heavy metal related fun and games.

So where does Portman fit into the equation? She plays shop assistant Nicole who helps TJ out of a sticky situation with a local bully. Now listen here Portman, you might think that you're fooling us with those Deidre Barlow glasses, but let's face facts, you could wear pretty much anything and still be gorgeous. Apart from the gorgeous factor it's not one of Portman's strongest roles. The script doesn't stretch her in the slightest and is slightly disappointing for Portman fans like me.

The heart of the film belongs to Wilson and Brochu. Their relationship is portrayed realistically as they deal with the unexpected death in the family and it never becomes too sugary sweet. The story is all about them trying to get back to some normality and start their lives again. Wilson nicely underplays the comedy and is fast becoming one of my favourites (a review of Super will be coming up at some point soon). Also I've just had a sneaky peak and seen that Brochu was also in the useless Rubber. A complete waste of his talent.

Hesher hasn't done anything to improve my opinion of Gordon-Levitt. Performance wise he doesn't do a bad job but he looks far too clean cut to play Hesher. I have to admit my dislike is slightly irrational but there's something about him that really gets on my nerves. (I really hope Inception doesn't come up as Ellen Page's entry, I don't think I can sit through another Gordon-Levitt film for a good few months.)

So it's nothing earth shattering but it is likeable enough. Definitely a middle of the road performance from Portman and it looks like she's given Page every chance to power through into the next round of the FA Cup of Actors.

If you like this you could also try:
Garden State, Super.

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