A Hero, by the Iranian director of the acclaimed A Separation (Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film) Ashgar Farhadi, receives a general release this week. Amir Jadidi plays Rahim, the divorced father of a young son with a speech impediment, who is in jail for debt. He has been granted a two-day parole and spends time with his new girlfriend, Nazanin (Sarina Farhadi). When she finds a purse containing gold coins they get a quote on the worth so that he can pay his moneylender to excuse him. But when the coins are not as valuable as they had hoped, Rahim hatches a plan to plaster the streets with signs to help return the bag to the woman so that can reclaim his reputation and be freed from prison – and it works. He is lauded as the most honourable of heroes and offered job opportunities; the community donate money to him and his son. But when more and more questions are asked, Rahim realises that the hole he has dug himself into is deeper than he thought.
The depiction of the essence of family is a real strong point here. Rahim’s caring sister and her husband welcome him back into their home, where his son has been staying. They celebrate his return and are overjoyed to hear about his new love. In a particularly naturalistic scene his son refuses to put down his tablet while the family eats, so the sounds of the game bore into their ears and the audience’s too. One can feel the desire to be patient amid growing frustration, the sequence aptly emulating the suffocation of big family houses. This continues as Rahim begins to be questioned about his intentions. He cannot acclimate to life outside and his freedom is on the line.
A Hero is a smart and thoughtful story about morality and the desperation to prove oneself to the world. Unfortunately, lead Jadidi is missing something, and, as the film strives to be moving and pensive, it falls slightly flat. The runtime is over two hours, which is probably its first fault as, had the story been packed into a shorter time slot, the result would have been a lot more effective. The ending is rather unsatisfying and, alongside the slow narrative progression, it leaves the audience without anything real to take from it. The piece could have offered so much more but is too refined for its own good, sadly making it forgettable and faceless – not the usual for its esteemed director.
A Hero has a heartfelt idea at its core, but the execution does not meet the expectations set by Farhadi’s reputation.
A Hero is released on Amazon Prime Video on 7th January 2022.
Watch the trailer for A Hero here: