Hello Herman Movie Review
Directed by Michelle Danner
Written by John Buffalo Mailer
2013, 88 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on June 7th, 2013
Norman Reedus as Lax Morales
Garrett Backstrom as Herman Howard
Martha Higareda as Isa Luz
Hello Herman has a number of lofty goals: to explain the possible motives that drive a lonely teenager to commit murder, question if we are too wrapped up in technology to appreciate humanity, and wonder if parents are too busy to do much parenting anymore. But in the attempt to accomplish so much, the film fails to accomplish anything and the result is a depressing series of vignettes about mistakes made by un-relatable characters.
Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) loses the crossbow to play blogger/wannabe journalist Lax Morales, his personal and profession career recently decimated by an undercover exposé gone wrong. While watching a rival broadcast about a horrific high school shooting spree, he receives a message from the shooter, shockingly recorded during the massacre. Lax travels to fictitious West Broome to interview adolescent gunman Herman in prison while he awaits the verdict but finds there are no easy answers to teen violence in America.
The problems begin (and end) with the script. John Buffalo Mailer’s adaptation from his stage play is overwhelmed by too many perspectives and too little character development. Director Michelle Danner’s goal to shed light on the tragedy of our nation’s youth is overshadowed by a particularly rigid point of view on the issue. She uses static characters to hammer an opinion home rather than asking us to debate it ourselves. Using the Glenn Beck-inspired Chet Clarkson (played by Rob Estes) and ice-cold Senator Cox (Christine Dunford), the viewer is asked to ignore the anger these acts of violence cause. We are required to see anyone who takes a revenge stance as heartless and cold. While that stance is flawed in isolation, it can’t be ignored as a valid emotional response to trauma and worthy of debate against a compassionate sins-of-the-father argument that lets children off too easily. As a result, nobody in this movie learns anything.
I do applaud Mailer and Danner’s courage to tell a troubling story; one I suspect we will see again and again not on movie screens but our own local news stations.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.