Bad-boy drama "Hesher" picked up at Sundance

Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:14am EST
 
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By Jay A. Fernandez and Gregg Goldstein

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) - Newmarket Films is back in the film-festival market, picking up domestic rights to the Natalie Portman-produced drama "Hesher," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in a deal in the $1 million range.

The deal closed just before dawn Thursday after a late-night Salt Lake City screening.

In the Spencer Susser-directed film, Gordon-Levitt plays the title character, an intrusive, greasy-haired, tattooed mayhem-seeker who insinuates himself into the lives of a bullied 13-year-old boy and his pill-popping father, who are struggling to adjust to the death of the wife and mother in a car accident. Portman also factors in as a flighty young woman who comes to the boy's rescue and then has run-ins with Gordon-Levitt's hilariously crude bruiser.

The language and content place it squarely in the R-rated realm, though Gordon-Levitt's bad-boy performance is thorough and thoroughly enjoyable. Devin Brochu, as the teenage TJ, also impressed audiences with a difficult role defined by desperation and anger. Susser's short film "I Love Sarah Jane" screened at Sundance in 2008.

Newmarket, noted for such releases as "The Passion of the Christ" and "Memento," has had a low profile recently. It released a Charles Darwin film "Creation" in seven theaters last weekend.

 
<p>Actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt (L), Brendan Hill (R), and John Carroll Lynch (back) arrive with director Spencer Susser for the premiere of the film "Hesher" during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 22, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>