A HERO – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Have you ever heard the sarcastic saying, “No good deed goes unpunished?” Well, this new film from Academy award-winning Iranian writer and director Asghar Farhadi is a great example of doing something good and having it blow up in your face.
Rahim (Amir Jadidi) is in debtors’ prison because he was unable to repay a personal loan to his ex-brother-in-law Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh). In Iran, it’s a common practice to be locked away for not paying your bills. I think half of America would be in prison if we did that here.
Rahim is on a two-day leave and meets up with his girlfriend Farkhondeh (Sahar Goldoost). She found a woman’s purse with several gold coins in it on the street near a bank. Her first thought was to sell the coins and help pay for Rahim’s release. However once Rahim finds out that he does not have enough money from the coins to cover all the debt he decides to look for the owner instead. At the same time, he begs Bahram to let him out of jail permanently to work and earn the money he owes him. Bahram hates Rahim and is not inclined to do him any favors.
On his way back to prison Rahim posts a lot of flyers up on the street where the purse was found. He posts the prison office phone number and his name and states they must describe the bag and what is in it. He leaves the bag with his sister Malihe (Maryam Shahdaei), who is taking care of his son while he is incarcerated. When a woman comes forward and gratefully claims the purse with the gold Rahim is happy he chose to do what was right.
The woman calls the prison officials to let them know what a great thing Rahim did. The fact that he was in prison for owing money and did not keep the gold that was found is lauded as a heroic act. The press gets involved and a charity wants to help raise the money to pay his debts. All this infuriates Bahram who thinks that this was all set up as a plot by Rahim to get out of jail.
The film then takes us on Rahim’s quest to prove he did everything with good intentions only. However, he is either the most unlucky sad sack in the world or his own worst enemy. He often loses his temper over all the confusion.
Asghar Farhadi has a natural talent for taking a simple story and making it compelling and thrilling. All without any special effects or over-the-top swishing camera movements. His ability to closely examine his culture’s rules and social mores through relationship-centered stories is what makes his movies so universally appealing.
I give A Hero a 4-star rating. It’s an intimate and well-captured look into a culture we know little about.
Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Written by: Asghar Farhadi
Selig Rating: 4 Stars
Running Time: 2h 7min
Drama / Foreign Language with subtitles
Limited Theatrical Release: January 7th Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano, The Grand Berry Theater in Fort Worth and exclusively on Amazon Prime Video January 21
Starring: Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabendeh, Fereshteh Sadre Orafaee, Sahar Goldoost
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.