"...a stern cautionary tale about the fickleness of people and unreliability of social media"

Potential Oscar Nominee is Relevant & Relatable

(020422) The quasi ironically titled "A Hero" is an excellent new dramatic film from Iran about a man who suffers the worst possible fate for trying to do a good thing in the wrong way. The film does a great job of showing viewers some unforeseen dangers of living life in the public spotlight. Be careful if you are desperately yearning to be in the public spotlight. You just might find you get more than what you bargained for.

The film was shot in the gorgeous and surprisingly modern city of Shiraz which is almost a main character in the film. The camera lingers lovingly on individual street scenes (often of shops) much longer than we would see in most American films which allows us to more fully consume the intoxicating beauty of the city. One shot shows a scene of a sign in a store depicting Chapin’s little tramp which seems to announce that this film too is about a likeable loser.

A Hero was directed by the often-brilliant Ashgar Farhadi who made a string of universally well-regarded cinematic gems including A Separation (2011), The Past (2013) and The Salesman (2016). His only recent misfire was Everybody Knows (2018) which was his first film made out of Iran. Now with A Hero, which was shot in Iran, he has shown he is still near the peak of his powers. Like most of Asghar’s films, this one has already acquired considerable critical acclaim. It won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, and it has been submitted as Iran’s official entry in this year’s Academy Awards. I have a hunch it might lose to Drive My Car which has a bigger buzz, but Asghar’s previous films have already won two Oscars.

The main character in A Hero, Rahmin is a noble soul but he is a bit naive. He expects that good intentions will also always be rewarded. The role is perfectly played by Amir Jadidi with an expression of wide-eyed childlike sincerity, but unfortunately, he sometimes sounds weak and uncertain which I think helps him get into trouble and makes him sound insincere to some.

One of the many great things about the film is that the viewer only gets a little info at a time, so as the plot unravels the viewers will be as surprised as the fictional participants. Rahmin is out on furlough and he is serving a prison stretch for not paying back his debts. His creditor, Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh who is instantly unlikeable) is related to him through marriage, but he seems very stern, harsh and unforgiving. Rahmin has trouble finding a good job because of his prison record, but he makes some money as a sign painter. While he was serving time in jail, his ex wife (who comes off as quite vindictive) found a new love, and he met his current girlfriend, Farkhondieh (who seems very gentle and endlessly patient) because she served as speech therapist to his stuttering son. One day, Farkhondieh stumbles upon a bag of gold coins which seems like it could be the answer to her boyfriend’s prayers. She comes up with the idea that Rahmin will return the gold to its rightful owner (a charity) which might help to clean up his tarnished rep, but this turns out to be the worst mistake he could make.

At first, he is acclaimed as a true hero by the media, but as hazy details about the event emerge the social media which formerly depicted him as evidence of goodness in the world turn against him. The plot has a similar trajectory as the one from Meet John Joe. Like that film, this one also indicts us, the media consumers who are so desperate to find evidence of anyone with a moral compass that we would puff up a flawed person into a god like figure than tear him down in a second if he or she turns out not to be perfect. No one in the film cares that he is a good man that is being treated unfairly they only want to preserve their own public images.

Also, the government officials in the film seem much more concerned with whether minor technicalities are followed than whether real justice is served. overall. I thought the film was just a slightly below the level of Asghaur’s trio of masterpieces . It is a little short on the emotionally explosive scenes that made A Separation and The Salesman completely unforgettable. But the film still serves as a superb and stern cautionary tale about the fickleness of people and unreliability of social media.

I hope that potential English speaking viewers are not turned off by the fact that the film was made in Iran. The film’s themes are universal and it is more relevant and relatable than most films made from the states. In Persian with English subtitles

Directed & Written by:    Asghar Farhadi
Starring:    Amir Jadidi, Sahar Goldoost, Sarina Farhadi
Released:    010722 (USA)
Length:    127 minutes
Rating:    Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and
Available On:    At press time film is playing at  the Gene Siskel
 Center and is streaming on Amazon Prime.

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

A HERO © 2022 Arte France Cinéma
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2023 Alternate Reality, Inc.

No Time to Die"


"the Eternals