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Sundance 2010: Spencer Susser’s Hesher

A downright delicious, dark film that is equal parts comedy and drama, this throws a molotov cocktail to your standard film that deals with sorrow and grief — at first I was thinking that Spencer Susser’s Hesher was set to describe the bully rapport between victimizer and victim, but it plunges its set of characters on this uneasy course of mayhem and destabilization….

A downright delicious, dark film that is equal parts comedy and drama, this throws a molotov cocktail to your standard film that deals with sorrow and grief — at first I was thinking that Spencer Susser’s Hesher was set to describe the bully rapport between victimizer and victim, but it plunges its set of characters on this uneasy course of mayhem and destabilization….

Spencer Susser's Hesher

….despite the language, the well appreciated foul joke thrown in for good measure (what is green and slimy and smells like bacon…?) the crowd on hand for the world preem at the Eccles reacted especially well to the film – I’m thinking that’ll take a distributor with more than one testicle to make an offer on it – and you’d think that a film starring (500) Days’ Gordon-Levitt and features Nathalie Portman (she didn’t make the preem – she is in New York shooting Darren Aronofsky’s latest) would be an easy sell but its actually far from that ….

Spencer Susser's Hesher

….My thinking is that there is a very thin connection to Little Miss Sunshine‘s mantra of family coming together – here the reunion isn’t the focal point, but an almost afterthought – and instead of a yellow VW we have the main character’s obsessive nature towards an accidented flaming red family car. As much as Hesher is a showcase for a different kind of Gordon-Levitt, this is actor Devin Brochu’s spotlight – who a couple of months back I had originally mistaken him for Max from Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. With both Brochu and Gordon-Levitt as his canvas, Susser examines separation anxiety in some doses – it both fails and succeeds sometimes not providing enough depth to the child’s sense of bewilderment or loss – perhaps that is due to the many bullying events in his life. Here are the two main players plus Susser’s brother, Morgan the cinematographer of the film. Full review coming post-festival.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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