Asghar Farhadi’s latest entry knows the stakes about debts and honesty.
Seeing how the character Rahim (Amir Jadidi) can barely get his story straight and wanting to do the right thing is a challenging aspect. “A Hero” is an Iranian drama that can be a bit confusing with how everyone interprets his side of the story, which we’ll get to soon, but it keeps you involved with how writer/director Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation,” “The Past”) executes the story and main protagonist.
Rahim is in the slammer for failing to pay his debt for the business he was running, but he’s been given a two-day leave to convince his creditor Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh) to withdraw the complaint against the payment part of the sum. His girlfriend Farkhondeh (Sahar Goldoost) finds a bag of cold coins, which they both plan to sell to pay off his debt. But Rahim has a conscience, thinking that this could be a test from God, so he goes to great lengths to find the owner of the purse.
The owner has to be myserteous, because she has to keep the coins a secret from her broke husband, but Rahim is declared a hero by the authorities. He can’t say that Farkhondeh is his wife, so he’s advised to say he’s the one who found them to save people the headache.
Bahram, however, doesn’t believe Rahim doesn’t deserve the attention. In fact, he doesn’t believe he did that good deed. He had to sell his daughter’s (Asghar’s daughter Sarina Farhadi) dowry to pay off that debt, and even the lass is mad at him.
On the side, we see Rahim’s son Siavash (Saleh Karimaei) struggling to get his stuttering under control. He also must stick by his father’s side through the praising and accusations, and he also knows about his girlfriend. A tender scene is when the boy asks his father if he’ll marry her, and even Rahim says he won’t if his son doesn’t want to, Siavash is crying in his bed. And another is when he must embellish a story to get his dad off the hook, and he doesn’t work well under stress. Karimaei really has the magic as a child actor, who has a sentimental and poignant nature that allows us to sympathize him.
And we must also sympathize Rahim, and the actor who portrays him-Jadidi. He’s not a bad man; he just can’t get the story straight, and he wants to do what’s right, even if he still has to deal with the negativity of his creditor. And there’s also a fight scene between him that really sets the mood of what he’s trapped in.
“A Hero” is told with vibrance and emotions by Farhadi, who knows a good character study in these particular lives. Watching this movie, I was concerned that an American version would taint the pure nature of it. I know that sounds like something I would say a lot in my reviews (and I’m glad “Parasite” didn’t get an American remake), but I had to see the Danish version of “The Guilty” before I saw the Jake Gyllenhaal movie, and that film as provocative, whereas the new one just repeated the same lines and the same twists as that.
Here’s what I like to imagine in a conversation:
Me: “I’ve seen the Danish version, and that was provocative. But this one just repeated the same lines and same story. I liked Gyllenhaal in the lead role, but this one still didn’t cut it.”
Person: “I didn’t see the Danish version.”
Me: “I know you didn’t.”
Trust me I know.
But let’s get back to “A Hero.” It takes its time to allow the audience to absorb what Rahim has to prove his worth. The embellishment of him not mentioning his girlfriend being the one who found the bag really gets him and a donation center in turmoil. Social media and texts can both make a difference. But we still know he isn’t bad guy, because of the conscience he has. This movie tackles every nerve in your body.
Now Playing in Select Theaters
Streaming on Amazon Prime January 21