"Hesher" is a flawed but moving, refreshingly unique story about grief, love, and loss. Three male characters representing different generations (one about 13 years old, the second about 25, and the third about 40) are each suffering a terrible loss and each handling it miserably. Their lives are in a shambles.
On the rare occasion when they're able to get out of bed, they get enmeshed in fights, vandalism, car crashes, bonfires, and explosions everywhere they turn. And they are usually the cause of this violence. "Hesher" is one of the most kinetic films I've ever seen.
These three troubled boys develop an uncommon bond and help each other heal, in their completely unique way. The final sequence, which sees the three of them pushing a coffin through the streets of their town, had me in tears.
The lead character is the youngest one, played by Devin Brochu. The 25-year-old (whose name is Hesher) is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rainn Wilson, in what I believe is his first non-comedic role, plays the bereft, profoundly depressed 40-year-old.
A few female characters dot the landscape, again representing different generations. (The cross-generational aspect to "Hesher" was a real delight.) Natalie Portman plays a down-on-her-luck supermarket clerk, and Piper Laurie, most famous for her role as the demonic mother in "Carrie" (1976), is radiant as a generous, slightly senile grandmother.
"Hesher" may have its flaws, but it also has a tremendous amount going for it. The fact that it has received overly harsh reviews and been completely ignored by audiences strikes me as one of the cinematic travesties of 2011. We seem to hate unique filmmaking in America. --unfinished--