A Hero

2021 [PERSIAN]

Drama / Thriller

IMDb Rating 7.2 10 8915

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ferguson-6 8 / 10

what is a hero?

Greetings again from the darkness. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." That line from a Sir Walter Raleigh poem hit me early, and stuck with me through this latest superb film from Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi. Having won me over a decade ago with A SEPARATION (2011), and again 5 years ago with THE SALESMAN (2016), Farhadi excels at pushing our buttons on the complexities of human nature.

Rahim (Amir Jadidi) receives a two day leave from debtor's prison, and has reason for optimism. He has a legitimate plan to make good on his debt and gain his release. A taxi drops him at the tomb of Xerxes where his sister's brother Hossein (Alireza Jahandideh) is working on the preservation. Rahim, a low-key guy with an easy smile, asks Hossein for help in brokering a deal with Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh), the man who paid off the loan shark on Rahim's behalf, and filed the complaint that sent him to jail.

The divorced Rahim meets up with his secret lover, Farkhondeh (Sahar Goldust), to cash out the 17 gold coins she recently found. Unfortunately, the exchange rate is less than expected, and worse than that for Rahim, Bahram refuses to accept the partial payment in conjunction with a promissory note. This leads to the aforementioned 'tangled web' and allows filmmaker Farhadi to do what he does best ... cause us to question everything.

The web involves Rahim, Bahram, the jailer, and a local charity that gets involved for what is initially termed the actions of 'a hero'. But that's just the tip of who gets dragged in, and that includes Rahim's son, who has a significant speech impediment. So what happens? Well, without giving anything away, we learn there's a fine line between a lie and the truth, and between a heroic act and manipulation. In fact, Farhadi has us questioning what it means to be a hero. What impact does media attention have? Is it heroic to do the right thing? What if that thing also helps you? What role do the reasons for your actions play?

Rahim faces a steady stream of moral forks in the road. Which path to take at any given time has ramifications on him, his situation, and countless others. As the fibs pile up, soon others are lying to help you or telling stories to hurt you. There is so much grey area here, we can't be certain whether black and white even exists. Farhadi's film seems like a simple story about a simple man, but neither the story nor the man are simple. It's not about the money, but the money reveals character. Reputation and integrity are on the line. We may first root for Rahim and jeer Bahram, but upon reflection, we likely shift our support. This is Iran's submission to the Academy, and it's a good one.

In theaters January 7, 2022 and streaming on Amazon Prime January 21, 2021.

Reviewed by Sir_AmirSyarif 9 / 10


Asghar Farhadi returns to his signature style and being at the top of his game with the excellent 'A Hero.' It doesn't have the narrative power or surprising turns of Farhadi's masterpieces 'About Elly' (2009) and 'A Separation' (2011). But his remarkable ability to build a smart and thoughtful story about morality and the desperation to prove oneself to the world is simply something to admire.

Reviewed by rubenm 9 / 10

A perfectly told story

In cinema, there is usually a clear division between the bad guys and the good guys. The viewer identifies with the former, and dislikes the latter. This is easy for the audience and for the film maker.

But Asghar Farhadi is known for not taking the easy way. In 'A Hero', the good guy can turn out to be bad after all, and vice versa. Or, more accurately, the division between good and bad is blurred. Everyone has good intentions, but sometimes they come out bad.

This is why Farhadi is one of the greatest contemporary film makers. His films deal with moral issues, just as people in the real world do. His characters are complex, like we alle are. There are no easy solutions to the problems, just as in real life.

'A Hero' tells the story of an ordinary man who gets involved in a situation he no longer controls. He is perceived as a hero because he returned a bag with valuables to its owner, but when his story is doubted, fate turns against him. The situation becomes complex, more and more people get involved and there is gradually more at stake as the story unfolds.

The screenplay of this film is perfect. Every details has a meaning somewhere in the story. Things are not spelled out, but nothing is left vague. The beauty is also that this is a circular story, with an end that is the opposite of the beginning. The very last scene is wonderful in its simplicity and understated meaning.

With this film, Farhadi shows us also what life is like in modern Iran. It's not a political film and the story is rather universal, but several elements can be perceived as critical for Iranian society. The 'hero' is jailed for an unpaid debt, which is something we don't do in western countries. He has to keep his relationship with his girlfriend a secret, because they are not married yet. Another character had to spend his daughter's dowry, and we see her as an unmarried woman, living with her father.

For me 'A Hero' is one of the best films I've seen this year and also one of the best films Farhadi has made. A perfectly told story, which keeps on offering new elements to evaluate reality - that is what film making should be all about.

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