Hesher, which opens in limited theatres (40 screens) today, has received very mixed reviews wherever it’s played, and now with the official release it seems that hasn’t changed much at all. Below are a few reviews highlighting the good, the bad and the in-between.
– Film Freak Central cough up a very positive 3 and a half stars.
The film culls numerous laughs from a psychopath who’s a comically inappropriate role model, but more than that, it offers a furious refutation of the popular portrayal of the Other as magical restorers of faith. (Similarly, T.J. is so enamoured of faraway crush Nicole (a heartbreaking Natalie Portman)–whose name is barely mentioned in the film–that he’s unable to see her as an adult struggling to get by.)
– Peter Travers is also on board with 3 stars.
As the film’s co-producer, Portman shows a bracing kinship with the indie spirit. So what if Hesher flies off its wobbly handles — it keeps springing funny and touching surprises. The performances are aces. Wilson makes Dad’s emergence a subtle marvel. And even when the script edges Gordon-Levitt into Hallmark sentiment, you can’t take your eyes off him.
And now for the pain…
– The AV Club offers up a D rating.
In Hesher, Natalie Portman plays a sad-sack in mom-jeans whose greatest ambition is to secure 20 hours a week at the grocery store where she toils vacant-eyed and numb for 15 hours a week. That pathetic goal remains forever outside her grasp, however, so she asks Devin Brochu, a sad little boy she has befriended, what’s wrong with her. Is she not attractive enough to score five more hours a week? Is her personality somehow lacking? Beautiful movie stars often play forgettable-looking losers, but Hesher loudly broadcasts its contempt for verisimilitude in ways that go far beyond casting one of the most beautiful women in the world as a forgettable slip of a human being.
– While the San Francisco Chronicle has nothing positive to say, calling it “as awful as independent films get”.
Natalie Portman – how did they get her for this? Impressive – plays a part-time supermarket cashier who is so broke that a parking ticket is an occasion for panic (and she doesn’t even live in San Francisco). The filmmaker gives Portman nothing to do but act nervous and vague and talk as if she’d misplaced about 30 IQ points. Portman scholars of the 22nd century will find this a curious entry.