Ashgar Farhadi’s newest film, A Hero, explores themes like honor, selflessness, and the will to do the right thing in a theoretically nerve wracking story.
Read more in our review below:
A Hero premiered to major critical buzz at last years’ Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the Grand Prix Award, the second most important award at the festival. After a great festival run and more awards recognition, it was later selected as the Iranian entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the upcoming Academy Awards.
A Hero Showcases An Intriguing But Frustrating Journey
Farhadi is a very well respected and well known filmmaker in the rings of cinephiles and fans of independent cinema. He is best known for his 2011 film A Separation, which earned him a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category as well as his first win in the Best International Feature Film category at the 84th Academy Awards. That made him the first Iranian to have ever won an Oscar in a competitive category. Three years after his last film, Everybody Knows, the acclaimed filmmaker returns with A Hero, which is about to hit Amazon Prime Video this week.
The film follows Rahim, who is in prison because of a pay he wasn’t able to pay. During a two day leave, he finds a sack of gold coins, with which he tries to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint. But when the media learns about his situation, he becomes a local celebrity, who has to come to terms with the situation and has to act the right way, which becomes even harder when he learns that those potentially life-changing gold coins, might not be his after all.
A Hero is a mix of a basic character driven drama and a character study, with Amir Jadidi’s Rahim front and center in the film. It explores moral themes through Rahim and leaves the titular question to the audience. Is our protagonist really a hero? Naturally a film like this stays under most of peoples radars, but it deserves all the praise it’s getting and I understand why it gets it, even though I can’t quite agree with it.
First off, this is the first film I’ve seen from Farhadi, even though A Separation has been on my watchlist for ages. But judging from A Hero, his style seems to be very slow yet precise. While I don’t know if that’s the case in his other works, it didn’t work for A Hero. The problem I faced is that the film rapidly becomes frustrating due to its slow pacing and the constant repetition of certain scenes. While it starts off strong, after a certain point the film juggles the same type of scenes over and over for the rest of its runtime.
There is a scene in which Rahim sits at the table with his family and they discuss what he should do with the gold coins. This is followed by a scene in which he basically does the opposite, only to then in the next scene sit at the exact same table, with the exact same people, discussing why he did the opposite and why this was a bad idea. And this is something that happens a few times in the film, although not in always as lengthy a manner as I described. It’s often in scenes with smaller impact, but even those get partly reversed.
But there is also a lot of greatness to be found in A Hero. The leading performance by Amir Jadidi is captivating, especially in the first act of the film. You can always feel his moral struggle and his will to do the right thing, even though he knows of the potential consequences, through his committed performance and he has a solid amount of standout scenes in the film as well. The kind of acting showcases, that you remember, even a few days after watching the film.
Sahar Goldlust, who plays Farkhondeh, Rahim’s girlfriend, also delivered a stellar performance. She brings a lot of kindness and emotion to the film, which makes her performance my favorite part of the film. Another aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed about A Hero is that it actually explores those big themes like: moral, honor and being a good person, rather than just address them, which happens quite often in other films of its nature.
We see Rahim struggle with his decisions, we see how he changes his minds over and over and we see how the people around him react to his morals and also see them struggle with that. That does make for some captivating moments, but can’t fully translate to the entire runtime, due to its urge to repeat itself.
A Hero is a fascinating, yet frustrating watch. All the right cards were there, but due to a repetitive screenplay structure, the film just wouldn’t really work for me. While there is a lot to admire, there is even more to be bored about.
A Hero is in select theatres and hits Amazon Prime Video January 21, 2022.
The film is written and directed by Ashgar Farhadi and stars: Amir Jadidi, Sahar Goldlust, Mohsen Tanabandeh and Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy.
What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch it? Let’s discuss everything in the comments down below and on our social media.