Unfortunately, The Hermit felt too disorganized to pack much of a punch. For such a ripe and unique story, the exploration felt conventional and surface-level. Thoughtful discussion of the reasons why someone would choose to live a life of isolation felt too rare. Several times, the film seemed to be building up to a thoughtful assessment of even one part of the story, but time and time again it failed to produce a conclusion. Some interviews with townspeople focused on the way Christopher Knight looked in his mug shot, which was never shown. I respect the filmmaker's choice not to show the photo if the choice centered on Christopher Knight's request for some level of visual anonymity, but the focus on his appearance in a mug shot should accordingly be of less focus. It wasn't.
The only really intriguing parts of the film were the interviews with the townspeople; thankfully, those were a large focus, but unfortunately they were delivered in a piecemeal fashion that diminished their impact. The film often felt torn between conveying every single thought the townspeople had about the man and constructing a thoughtful discussion around his choices and their impact; sadly, the film leaned much more towards the latter than the former. It felt like it built up a few different thoughts to about 60%, leaving everything just under par.
I walked away knowing more about the divisive opinions within the community, but I knew those likely existed prior to seeing the film. Director Lena Friendrich definitely picked a fantastic story to cover, but I'm not sure this version is the best one. Maybe wait for a second cut.