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'A Hero': Robin's movie review

A film poster for “A Hero.” A close-up of a man’s face. He is looking away from the camera. There is an out-of-focus curtain in the foreground that partially covers the view of the right side of his face.

For this week’s Movie Minutes, KUNR entertainment reviewer Robin Holabird looks at a new film about the pitfalls of modern life.

Focusing on a sad set of complications, director Asghar Farhadi once again finds universal human difficulties for his new release, A Hero. As he did in his international Oscar winner A Separation, Farhadi shows pervasive ways people respond to everyday emotions. Setting his story in Iran, Farhadi uses elements suited to British literary giants.

Main character Rahim fits the Charles Dickens mold as a man stuck in debtor’s prison, a system where inmates can pay their way out — but of course, that takes money. In a Shakespearean manner, Rahim’s access to money involves deception, and as Sir Walter Scott points out, lies lead to tangled webs — tangled for Rahim, that is.

As a masterful storyteller, director Farhadi makes action clear, compelling and ultimately exasperating. Rahim deserves to move forward with his life. Unfortunately, both he and the system repeatedly sabotage that progress, both purposefully and accidentally, as events give Rahim a heroic image he knows he doesn’t deserve. Displaying a mix of warmth, goodness, and weakness, actor Amir Jadidi encourages empathy for Rahim, one of those people who always seems to get themselves into a deeper hole.

Other characters contribute to Rahim’s problems through meanness, naivete, jealousy and more, which leads to the movie’s eventual overriding sense of frustration. Instead of moving forward, Rahim and the plot come to a standstill, stuck with an absorbing past that goes nowhere. A Hero provides valid observations about society and people without offering hope about significant change or growth. Realistic? Sure. But sad.

The Grand Prix award winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, A Hero made it on the short list for foreign film Oscar contenders. Amazon started streaming it in January.

Robin Holabird is KUNR’s entertainment reviewer, author and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office. You can find an archive of her reviews here.

Robin Holabird reviews movies for KUNR, and her reviews have aired for more than 30 years. During that time, she has had a high profile in the Nevada film community.
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