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Quint on dark comedy HESHER starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, young Devin Brochu and Natalie Portman! Sundance 2010!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another review before I hit the sack. It was a 6 movie and 1 interview day for me and tomorrow promises at least 4 movies and 3 interviews, so forgive my exhaustion showing through as I’m sure it will. I flat out loved HESHER. Yes, you can pick at the movie a bit… the biggest sin is a lull between acts 2 and 3 that lasts about 10 minutes, but for tone and sheer ballsy entertainment this one is going to be hard to top during my Park City adventure. If I had to classify Hesher into one category I’d fail miserably. It’s a comedy first and foremost and a dark one at that, but there’s also a heavy dramatic and tragic element that plays a large part in the plot and character work. Director Spencer Susser revels in casting against type. Here you have a movie where Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hilarious anarchist badass you don’t fuck with, Rainn Wilson is a deeply depressed father who is ignoring his remaining family after the loss of his wife, Natalie Portman is the homely, down on her luck check out girl and Carrie’s Mom (Piper Laurie) is the sweet-natured, not at all creepy grandma. And it all works, which is the great success of the movie and the reason why it immediately struck a positive chord with me. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on a helluva roll at the moment and he keeps that momentum going strongly with his title character, a heavy metal loving, pyromaniac destructor of any and everything that gets in his way. Hesher’s a man of few words. For example we’re introduced to his character as young Devin Brochu makes the horrible mistake of throwing a rock through a window of a build-in-progress house Hesher is squatting in. In one shot the rock is thrown, window shatters and then Levitt just kind of materializes out of the dark doorway, striding casually, but with purpose, shirt off, home-made tattoos on full display, and he grabs this 12 year old kid by the throat and pulls him into the house. A security guard is attracted to the window shattering and appears. Levitt screams “You fucked me!” at the kid, then calmly grabs a handful of dynamite, lights it and throws it out the window, slowly walking over to his shit as it blows up. Then the dude just keeps popping up in young Brochu’s school (apparently selling drugs to the junior high schoolers in the boy’s bathroom), watching the kid get his ass kicked on a daily basis by the ginger bully.

Hesher then shows up inside the kid’s house, stipping to his tighty-whities and making himself at home. No one challenges him. One look at the guy and you know you don’t say shit to him. In fact, at first I thought they were going the Drop Dead Fred route and making Hesher a figment of Devin Brochu’s imagination, allowing him to focus the rage of his loss and making him do tough things he wouldn’t think he could do. But then Rainn Wilson had to go see him and that blew my smart-ass prediction. It’s such a fun and funny character to set a movie around that if that was all the movie had going for it I could easily recommend it. But no, there’s more! For this very special limited time offer you also get a compelling family drama as this particular unit is rocked by the recent auto-death of Brochu’s mother and Wilson’s wife.

Brochu, one of the good kid actors that knows the power of understatement, is coping in his own way… which is essentially being unwilling to let go any physical piece of his connection to his mother, including the wrecked car that has been impounded… while his father copes by medicating himself into a dull neutrality and sleeping his life away. The only one trying to cope by bringing the family together is Piper Laurie’s Grandma character, but she’s old and a little on the loopy side herself. As you can imagine Hesher’s appearance throws a monkey wrench into everything, sometimes making certain problems worse, sometimes making them better. In a very weird way Hesher bonds with TJ (Brochu), helping him pursue his first crush, a mousy version of the radiant Ms. Natalie Portman. “Mousy!?! How dare you, sir!” I can hear you say. Yes, she can look mousy and yes, some of it is just throwing big glasses on her, but most of it is in her mismatched wardrobe and the way she carries herself. Life has taken a particular joy in shitting on Nicole’s life not in a tragic movie backstory way, but in a “I’m working a real job… shitty, but real and I’m having to sell shit to pay my rent” regular working class way.

There’s an odd assortment of characters all played extremely well. You’d expect Portman and Gordon-Levitt to be on their game even if playing different types, but the real surprise to me was Rainn Wilson. His grieving husband character isn’t as flashy as Hesher and doesn’t have the same amount of time devoted to him as Brochu’s character, but the biggest compliment I can give him is I didn’t see Dwight at all… until he shaves his beard, but that’s a given. Thinking back I can’t remember one single joke or gag he has. All his character’s humor is in reaction shots. The flick’s a hard R, with some of the foulest of foul shit constantly spewing out of Hesher’s mouth… the kind of witty/dirty mixture that is guaranteed to be quoted in film lover circles and dorm rooms across the country upon release. As far as I know Hesher doesn’t have a US distributor yet, but it will. And if whoever picks it up does a good enough job marketing this flick they could have another indie sensation, something off-kilter, but hilarious and memorable… the kind of movies studios hunt for at fests like this. Okay, that’s it. If I go to sleep now I get 3 hours and 20 minutes of sleep before my day starts off with The Company Men. As usual, if you want instant reactions to what’s going on at Sundance follow me on Twitter. Back tomorrow with much more stuff, including the really damn good Afghan war documentary RESTREPO and my thoughts on SPLICE! -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 23, 2010, 5:55 a.m. CST



    suck it haters!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6 a.m. CST

    JGL is on the way to....

    by BacardiRocky

    It's really cool seeing an actor grow from "child actor" status to "serious actor" on the verge of super stardom. Thanks for the heads up Quint, this looks like it will be an interesting watch. Can't wait to see JGL's Joker tryout/audition for Nolan in "Inception." Oh yeah, primero.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6 a.m. CST


    by BacardiRocky

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:02 a.m. CST

    lol @ him being "cool"

    by Waka_Flocka_Flame

    the description makes jgl sound like a try hard twat...sounds like a 10 year olds idea of someone who's cool. yeah fuck the system man!!!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:18 a.m. CST

    JO-GO is the real deal

    by JasonZumwalt

    That's right, I called him JO-GO. Trying to make that happen. Get on the band wagon people. I think what makes JO-GO so likable and relatable is that he earnestly wants to be liked and he earnestly is trying to be a good actor. We all know he's talented, but there's something else there. Did he really need to sing in EVERY sketch he did on SNL? No. He wanted to show us that he sing. Why? I don't know. Who cares really? The thing is, and this is what's on everyone's mind when it comes right down to it . . . I think he deserves to be Spider-man. Alright, I said it. There it is. JO-GO deserves to be Spider-man! JO-GO for Spider-man! OK, I don't really care. Just really want this JO-GO thing to happen. (fart noise)

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:49 a.m. CST

    Jean Simmons R.I.P

    by Spiderwalk

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Great review, Q

    by seppukudkurosawa

    But don't forget to see Chris Morris' Four Lions, damnit! Really funny clip can be found here:

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:14 a.m. CST

    OK, just saw someone posted that in the Bea--

    by seppukudkurosawa

    I mean Nowhere Man talkback. You must think Chris Morris has an army of PR stooges in his employ by now... But for serious, there are a lot of people waiting on that review. Don't disappoint...<p> :)

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:25 a.m. CST

    All Check Out girls

    by StarskyandHushky

    look like Natalie Portman here.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Oh wait

    by StarskyandHushky

    The dont. If check out girls looked like Portman, they wouldnt be fucking check out girls.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:08 a.m. CST

    Natalie Portman is pretty

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    I'd like to kiss her.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:09 a.m. CST

    I don't know...

    by wampa 1

    ...but it sure smells good!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:39 a.m. CST

    I don't really understand the storyline


    Maybe that's part of the movie's charm. Well it's got JGL in it and i like him so i'll probably check it out.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:58 a.m. CST

    what's a checkout girl?


    a cashier? where i'm from they can be either sex nowadays

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Company Men is great film...

    by VicenzoV

    Chris Cooper will probably get another Oscar for his work here. Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck are excellent in supporting roles but Cooper... just WOW.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:14 a.m. CST


    by ScaryWaitress

    He's smart, he's cool, he's original, he can act... AND SO FAR he's not fucking up his career (except for that HORRIBLE Gary Oldman impersonation in G.I. Joe...) <P> This guy knows what he's doing. MORE PLEASE.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:17 a.m. CST


    by ScaryWaitress

    Let that bullshit franchise DIE, please. <P> This guy is on a roll, you want him to throw it away with both hands by being SPRIDERMAN? If there was ANYONE decent attached to that so-called project, maybe. <P> I stand against it.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:41 a.m. CST

    I'd rather JGL play the Joker than Spider-Man

    by Drath

    And I think he's at least 5 years too old to work as a teenaged Peter Parker (assuming he could have convincingly played a teenager when he was 24). But seriously, he's the only actor right now who could follow up Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Fuck, are you kidding me?!?!

    by Fa_Tass_DinoMolester

    PDF Screenplays is dead?!?! I guess one group of retarded assholes had to ruin it for the rest of us. Thanks a lot, assholes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <p> FUCK, I'm fucking pissed.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:56 a.m. CST

    JGL playing an anarchist badass = JOKER!!!!

    by ludmir88

    Batman 3 is kind of complete

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Joseph Gordon Levitt

    by alan_poon

    Should have the career that ladyboy has now. Unlike that over rated twat I respect Levitt for the choices he's made. Brick, Mysterious Skin etc etc. Hope he get's to the very top, the bloke seems very genuine to as far as Hollywood goes.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:32 a.m. CST

    alan_poon which ladyboy?

    by manifestchaos

    who has anyone been talking about other than JGL on this talkback?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:34 a.m. CST


    by manifestchaos

    I want to see it!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:35 a.m. CST


    by alan_poon

    Ladyboy Di Caprio who he co stars with in Inception.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:38 a.m. CST

    ill see it eventually...

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    ...but I swear this was the worst review I have ever just seems like quint was just talkin without explainin stuff like who was Hersher or whatever...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Levitt is awesome. I'll see anything he makes and this sounds gr

    by Hint_of_Smegma

    Still don't see the appeal of Portman beyond the obvious that she's gorgeous, but to be fair she's a middle of the road actress so far. Good but no great. Stunning though. Hadn't heard of this film before so thanks man - really stoked to see this now.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Portan couldn't be "homely" if you put a paper bag over her head

    by Marbegirl

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:57 a.m. CST

    JGL playing the Joker is GREAT. Good call.

    by future help

    like it.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    JGL is amazing

    by Ashs_Right_Hand

    best actor around, this dudes gonna have an academy award within 5 years,,,and yea he'd make a badass joker

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Agree on Levitt playing Joker.

    by Hint_of_Smegma

    After Ledger's performance, he's the only one I think could put in an even better version. He'd be unhinged.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 12:42 p.m. CST


    by Ashs_Right_Hand

    jgl would prolly play the shit outtta batman himself,,,bale aint bad but i think he could prolly be the perfect bruce wayne

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 12:44 p.m. CST

    Somebody please make Being Joseph Gordon Levitt already!

    by seppukudkurosawa

    That way he gets to play everyone in the world! Yay.<p> (I really love him by the way, but this is just getting a little ridiculous).

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 12:55 p.m. CST

    whatever happened to that one JGL movie?

    by Series7

    The one that came out last year or something? About him and a girl running around a city or some shit?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 12:56 p.m. CST

    JGL Is the best actor of his generation...

    by RpgSama

    Hands down, he's just way out of anybody league...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Conan cast!

    by Charlie_Allnut

    Why am I hearing about this only on other sites? Did I miss the AICN report on this? You guys need to step up your game!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 1:39 p.m. CST

    ...Charlie, are you kidding?

    by FlickaPoo

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Charlie in other news

    by BacardiRocky

    ..... take a look at the new video game console we got for Christmas!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 3:24 p.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    are you slow?<p> <p> published Thursday on AICN...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 3:42 p.m. CST

    If Ledger was alive I would dispute that....

    by TheWaqman

    but alas, you're probably right RpgSama. If Cillian Murphy did more roles like Wind that Shakes the Barley and we saw more of Fassbender I would say you're dead wrong though.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 3:43 p.m. CST

    This movie looks very interesting, will see

    by TheWaqman

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 4:44 p.m. CST

    Anyone seen JGL'S "UNCERTAINTY"?


    Is it any good?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Charlie...when does Avatar come out?

    by MacReady452

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 5:02 p.m. CST


    by junierizzle

    I'll see anything that dude is in.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Gene Simmons has died

    by TheJudger

    Fuck Kiss is gonna suck with him.... J/K. It's Jean Simmons. RIP...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:24 p.m. CST

    JGL definitely should be the Joker

    by BeastOfGevaudan

    If they bring him back that is. He's got the chops and he even kind of looks like Heath.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:12 p.m. CST

    Great work Quint, but stop complaining

    by Miyamoto_Musashi

    You had to watch 6 movies at a premiere event and do one interview, my heart goes out to you, how do you manage

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:35 p.m. CST

    Levitt Is Great

    by Broseph

    i think he really is one of the best young talents out there today.I think he's making alot of smart career choices and he seems to be somebody who enjoys playing all different types of characters.the one movie that really got me into hiss acting was brick.tho the movie I have mad respect for him making even tho i never want to see it again in my life is mysterious skin.just to get into that headspace as an actor with such fucked up subject matter has my complete respect.this is a must see.and i loved 500 days of summer

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:14 p.m. CST

    JO-GO is the real deal

    by JasonZumwalt

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:18 p.m. CST

    Will Han Solo appear anywhere in this film?

    by MacReady452

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:53 p.m. CST

    Portman could never be homely or ordinary

    by Redmond

    Sorry, not even Rick Baker could pull that off. They haven't made enough makeup in the world to do that.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Why get a hot girl to play ordinary?

    by conspiracy

    Especially one who just is not a great actress? Wasn't there a less than Magazine Cover Quality babe whom actually could act available for the role?</p><p>And Nat is the Girl next door kinda way. She looks like the good girl who keeps a cheerleader/school girl outfit and several flash drives worth of hardcore BDSM smut hidden away...just in case she ever meets a guy whose perversions are as obvious as hers are hidden. Naughty...

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 2:41 p.m. CST

    All this Joseph Gordon Levitt cock sucking...

    by photoboy

    Why's he so popular around here? He annoys the fuck out of me, I don't want him anywhere near the next Spider-Man.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 6:50 p.m. CST

    The guy will always be...

    by HB_Dad

    "Tommy from 3rd Rock the Sun" to me.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 9:08 p.m. CST

    idiotseeksabanning or whatever

    by jiblets

    where the hell did you go to high school? They do not make ordinary girls that even remotely resemble the transcendent creature that is Natalie Portman. I understand if you perhaps do not find her attractive - some people are born congenitally absent a sense of aesthetics, like being born tone-deaf. You can't help what you are, but please don't call her ordinary. If she were ordinary, Talkback-oids like us would be walking around with chicks that cute. Let you in on a secret; the guys around here don't get alot. That's why they're so cranky.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Levitt is a quality actor

    by TheMandrakeRoot

    But why are you nerds so insistent he take Heaths role over? The role should not be touched, at least for any film Nolan directs (which I doubt will be more then one). I do hope is role in Inception means Nolan is considering him for the 3rd Batman, but there's no need for him to play a role in the shadow of Ledger, and I hope Nolan knows that too. Give him a new role, whether it be the Riddler, or whatever role that would fit him, and let him shine in it. Bringing back the Joker would be disrespectful to Heath and would put way too much pressure on Levitt, and too much controversy around the film. Just an all around poor idea.

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