In A Hero, Asghar Farhadi delivers a story about ethics and integrity with a pretty engaging script- Entertainment News, Firstpost
A Hero doesn’t have the verve of A Separation and the emotional gravity of The Salesman but as a generic social drama it has its heart in the right place.
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The last participation of the Iranian author Asghar Farhadi in the Cannes competition A hero is a social drama about moral dilemmas and the dazzling flexibility of principles. Regarding the subject, Farhadi has not deviated from his usual themes, holding up a mirror and offering his viewers a glimpse into the psyche of contemporary Iranian society. Combining brilliant performances and a fairly engaging storyline, Farhadi delivers a tale of ethics and integrity, and how they clash when personal stakes are higher.
Shot during the pandemic in Shiraz and ready in time to make its Cannes debut, the distribution rights of A hero have already been picked up by Amazon, and it should drop on the Prime video soon. Farhadi, a Cannes favorite, attended the premiere alongside his cast on the Croisette, where he received a standing ovation several minutes before the screening even began. The film will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or (its third if it achieves this feat.)
The soft-spoken and affable Rahim (Amir Jadidi) is on parole after his prison term. A estranged man with a son with a speech impediment who lives with his sister’s family, he defaulted on his debts that sent him to jail. But if he manages to repay his debts, he can avoid spending the rest of his sentence in prison. He may have found a way out: his girlfriend Farkhondeh (Sahar Goldust) recently stumbled upon a lost purse with gold coins that she wants to sell to raise money for Rahim’s debt repayment.
But when the couple consult with a pawnshop, they realize that the money just might not be enough for a jail bailout. Rahim has changed his mind and wants to return the coins. When prison officials learned of Rahim’s deed after the bag was returned to its owner, they exploited it to their advantage to distract the public from a death in prison. Rahim is now being forced to pretend to have found the purse, and the news is picked up by local media who even prompt a charity to organize a fundraiser for his bailout.
But things quickly turn badly when the disbelieving creditor raises doubts about Rahim’s story beyond the caution of honoring Rahim for an act that is only ethical and mundane. Now Rahim must convince his skeptical potential employer that his story is true, in addition to getting his hands on the funds raised by the charity that he risks losing. In the hands of another director things might have been different, but this is Farhadi, so the extended drama unfolds more with episodes in which Rahim takes one bad step after another, pushing him further from his release.
Watching Jadidi as Rahim is unnerving at times because he goes out of his way to play the well-meaning man with sagging demeanor whose unresolved moral dilemmas lead him into a tunnel with little hope for a light in sight.
It’s telling that there is hardly any physics in his relationship with his girlfriend Farkhondeh – let alone hugs or holding hands, not even a brush of each other’s fingers – and we wonder whether it is Farhadi who exploits the depths of the character of Rahim or the Iranian. censors in play.
In describing events related to cell phone videos threatening to turn people’s lives upside down, Farhadi seems to want to comment on the role of social media in shaping modern life, but this topic remains woefully under-explored. In the penultimate scenes, when Rahim holds his own to prevent his prison warden from posting a video of his son’s plea stammering over his innocence, Farhadi finds fertile ground for melodrama. As Rahim’s misery drags on, the plot becomes somewhat murky and loses its potency, though tempered by its ethical dilemma.
The ocher visuals of the mountains of Shiraz and the endearing vignettes of middle-class Iranian households, filled with lemon trees in tiled backyards and food constantly being prepared and served, serve as a solid backdrop to build a believable narrative.
Running at just over two hours, the master storyteller that he is, Farhadi has a firm finger on the film’s pulse, firming up the narrative as the pace slows down by introducing too much of a twist. Generally, A hero lack the verve of A separation and the emotional severity of Seller but as a generic social drama it has its heart in the right place.
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