WRITER: Spencer Susser & David Michôd, Brian Charles Frank (story)
DIRECTOR: Spencer Susser
BUDGET: 7 million (estimated)
t.j. and his dad have recently suffered a tragic loss. then one day hesher comes into their lives. actually, he does more than come in to their lives. he literally moves in - without asking.
hesher is a loner with long hair, who lives in his van, listens to heavy metal, smokes cigarettes and pot, likes to set things on fire has a tattoo on his back of a hand giving the finger and one on his chest of a stick man blowing his brains out.
"Hesher is a "feel good" movie that doesn't want to be a "feel good" movie - and that's what makes it so good. it makes the drama and the pain and the laughter genuine and ergo our reactions to it all.
hesher isn't a bad guy with a heart of gold. you can look for the character clichés here, but for the most part hesher doesn't fit them (or at least not the "feel good" movie ones).
he is selfish and pleasure driven and basically, as the tattoo on his back indicates, he doesn't give a fuck! he just needs a place to stay and do laundry and eat.
so, in classic "feel good" movie form, how does he make everything better you ask? well, he doesn't. but he gets things started though. because "getting things started," that's really all anyone can do. you can't fix everything after a tragic loss like this. one person can't come in and make everything better in a week or two. but those that are suffering can have better days and can start to have moments when they see past the sorrow and that's often the hardest step to take. and in the case of t.j. and his dad, one they hadn't been ready to take or even know how to take it. even if sometimes it is like taking one step forward and two steps back. at least it's steps taken.
it's interesting, because you want to like him. as an audience we like the kid and feel sad for him and his dad and we want to like hesher. we want to relate to him and see him do what we would if we were in that position. we want him to be a jerk with a heart of gold who helps the family. but for much of the movie he is just a jerk.
there is scene after scene where moments are available for him to be a good guy and help out. but he doesn't. sure, there are times when he isn't a total ass and it's obvious that he does grow to like the family. but in a very nice piece of writing, the big cathartic moment he initiates with the family near the end of the film comes from a selfish act on his part dealing with his own pain in the situation. t.j. and his dad just come along in the moment.
the final shot of the film is a great visual representation of all of it. on one side you have a meaningful gift that hesher has left for t.j. and his dad, and on the other side you have a large, self-indulgent sign that hesher has literally left his mark their home.