A hero is the return to form of Asghar Farhadi
In A hero, the discovery of a bag of gold coins sets the scene for a knotted Bressonian morality. The director is Asghar Farhadi, a filmmaker who has spent his career examining those blurred lines between good and evil; decency and pride; justice and madness. Taking place in the city of Shiraz, it turns out for him to be a return to familiar ground: both the first he made in his native Iran after the terrible misstep that was Everyone knows, as well as a return to the moral complexities of A separation, still his best film to date.
Farhadi claims the credentials of his latest fable with an opening flourish: a weightless shot at the marvelous facade of Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia where visiting nobles came to present their offerings. Rahim (Amir Jadidi) is not a noble man per se, but certainly a man with his own arrears to deal with: on two-day prison leave, he hopes to repay the creditor and brother-in-law, Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh), who lodged the complaint that led to his imprisonment. As it later appears, Bahram initially stepped in to pay the loan sharks from whom Rahim borrowed money for a failed business venture. In Farhadi’s world, no good deed goes unpunished.
If the movies made us think of anything, it’s that bags of silver never have a price, especially when it comes to gold. Adding layers to his tale, Farhadi has the bag of coins discovered not by Rahim, but by Malileh (Maryam Shahdaei), the woman he loves. Together, they hope the sum will cover enough debt to prevent Rahim from going back to prison, but the creditor refuses to accept their dubious offer. Rahim instead decides to return the coins to the woman who lost them in the first place and take credit for his good deed, an act he subtly designed to make himself look good, but which unintentionally turns it into one. local celebrity. This will earn him the sympathies of his community and, soon after, the contents of their pockets.
It’s a great collaboration, which still clearly bears the author’s signature. Jadid excels in the role of an ordinary man who, despite his actions, believes deep down that he has taken the virtuous path for him. Tanabandeh is as good as the pseudo-antagonist, the only man who can see the wood of the trees. Support players provide this world with the feeling of a living and functioning community. The staging and cinematography (by Ali Ghazi) is as crisp as the bright blue sky of Shiraz. Farhadi’s passage in the second act towards media satire is reminiscent of great works like A face in the crowd and Ace in the hole, while the loot bag echoes everything from Sierra Madre at Money, the Coens and King Midas, a whole plethora of stories that refused to end well.
It’s only been 4 years since Anousheh Ansari and Firouz Naderi took the stage at the Dolby Theater to accept Farhadi’s second Oscar for Seller, but that victory still felt more like a protest vote, as it did following Donald Trump’s executive order banning Iranians from entering the United States. Even still, it only took the fiasco of Everyone knows to suggest that his star was descending. A hero is perhaps too sinuous and convoluted a touch to be considered alongside her early large works, but she plays on her strengths and sensitivity – a clear return to form.
A hero premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and will be released in the United States by Amazon Studios.