A Hero REVIEW – Powerful Social Commentary

A simple good deed goes awry in this gripping moral tale.

A Hero
A Hero

If you found some gold in a handbag at a random bus stop, how willing would you be to get it back to the owner? If there’s identification in the bag, then sure, but gold in a bag with nothing else in it feels like finding money on the street. The decision making gets harder when you need the money, which is the exact plight of our protagonist Rahim (Amir Jadidi). Rahim is in prison because of a debt he failed to repay, so during his short visit outside the prison, he hopes to convince his debtor Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh) to let him pay off some of his debt with the gold his girlfriend found near a bus stop.

However, after things don’t go as swimmingly at the gold shop, Rahim starts to contemplate the morality of his actions, and convinces his girlfriend to let him return the gold coins. When he returns to prison, the authority figures learn about his good deed and decide to reward him for doing the right thing. He is lauded as a hero, but things get dicey when inconsistencies in his story pop up, and Rahim starts to realise that he’s more a prop than a hero.

A Hero is more than 2 hours long, but the time will fly by and you’ll barely feel it because of how engrossed you are in everything. It is paced so well, and we feel Rahim’s mounting frustration as he finds himself having to prove the veracity of his good deed. Jadidi does an incredible job as Rahim, making him someone we can root for, yet at the same time, he is also self-centred, especially when it comes to Bahram and the loan he took from him.

I like that the film doesn’t villainise Bahram, who isn’t a rich man and has also struggled after helping Rahim with his loan. Rahim is so blind to his own needs and desire for freedom that he refuses to see Bahram’s side of things, becoming increasingly angry when Bahram isn’t keen on negotiation. Caught in the crosshairs of it all is Rahim’s son, who has a speech impediment, and is used by various institutions as a prop to milk the situation and pull at purse strings. Every institution has an agenda, even charities, and one man’s good deed is used to mask darker truths.

In the peripheries of it all is social media and its fickle nature. One moment Rahim is a hero, the next he is a liar that fabricated the tale in order to be free from prison. After a while, what’s fact doesn’t matter anymore, only what people believe. There isn’t room for nuance or in-between takes, you are either the sum of all your bad decisions, or you’re a hero.

The most effective thing about director Asghar Farhadi’s film is that it isn’t preachy with its weighty themes. He gives us little moments here and there that help us understand the wider commentary the film is going for, and after the ending shot, you won’t be able to stop thinking about the film and all it said. I know I didn’t.

Review screener provided.

READ NEXT: 10 Underrated Movies of 2021 You Should Watch

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.

A Hero
Director Asghar Farhadi takes the adage "no good deed goes unpunished" and runs with it, offering a film that effectively comments on the failings of social institutions, and the cancel culture ways of modern society.