A Hero Movie Review
They say most criminals are not very smart, and while the protagonist in the Iranian drama A Hero may not be your typical criminal—he is in jail for owing a debt he cannot pay—he spends two hours doing dumb things to accidentally destroy the lives of those closest to him. A small drama that studies the profound ripple effect of small decisions, A Hero is an absorbing if overly long awards contender that largely delivers, even if you want to punch the guy in the face more often than not.
Amir Jadidi plays Rahim, who admittedly has a very handsome but punchable face. He does a terrific job playing a guy who clearly means well but can’t catch a break, and has been so worn down by his life experiences that he knows he largely sucks as a human being. There’s a profound sadness that Jadidi wears, masked poorly behind vacant eyes and a kind if confused smile.
What’s most compelling about A Hero is the film’s determination to remain focused on the most minute things, and see how different characters respond. Rahim may make poor decisions, but he largely means well—even still, what he does affects others, and even more importantly causes different people to react in different ways, creating a snowball effect that Rahim is quickly unable to control. Director Asghar Farhadi is an expert at drilling into the complexities of regular life, though A Hero may feel more foreign in some aspects than his award-winning A Separation as the concept of debt jail isn’t commonplace these days.
The one major issue with A Hero is it’s length; it’s just over two hours long, but the low key story runs out of heroics after a while. A leaner screenplay could have conveyed the same dynamics in less time, sharpening the impact of Rahim’s actions and ultimately the power of its closing moments. When all is said and done, Farhadi has developed a well done exploration of good intentions gone awry, dampened by an overextended runtime.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.