Rahim is in prison because of a debt he was unable to repay. During a two-day leave, he tries to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint against the payment of part of the sum. But things don’t go as planned.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is no stranger to tackling complex subjects and his latest movie, ‘A Hero’, is another example of the type of filmmaking he excels at. After the Spanish language ‘Everybody Knows’, he returns to his home country for this film about Rahim (Amir Jadidi), a man who is in prison because of a debt he is unable to repay. Whilst on leave from prison, his girlfriend comes across a bag of coins that could allow him to repay his debt and achieve freedom, however life is not as straightforward as that and old resentments and the complexities of Iran’s legal system stand in his way. What seems a simple way to achieve his freedom becomes an additional source of problems when people don’t believe Rahim and he is forced to try and verify his story.
‘A Hero’ finds Farhadi revisiting the same moral knottiness that he explored to such great effect in his finest movie, ‘A Separation’, populating his film with realistic characters with understandable motives. Rahim is a classic example of a man worn down by bureaucracy and the world around him that seems to offer no way out, regardless of what he does, and I thought Jadidi’s almost resigned performance perfectly fitted a man who has lost his faith in the world. He is an impossible situation where every attempt he makes to get out somehow ends up making things worse, yet each action feels reasonable at the time. I found it initially hard to get round the complexities of the Iranian legal system, perhaps as the central premise surrounds a dispute that would be treated as a civil case in the UK (i.e. no consequence of jail time regardless of outcome), but this is easily overcome.
‘A Hero’ has a lot to say about the importance of honour in Iranian culture and we see it from both sides, with Rahim believing his honour has been besmirched, and his debtor believing that showing any mercy to him would besmirch his own honour. The film is populated by characters who mostly mean well but are ground down by a system that cares not for individuals, and it makes clear its disdain for the disproportionate power given to lenders who can essentially hold the life of someone else in their hands. ‘A Hero’ isn’t quite as gripping as some of Farhadi’s previous works but it is an engaging movie that once again shines a light on peoples lives in present day Iran.
Directed By: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Amir Jadidi, Sahar Goldoost, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Fereshteh Sadr Orafaie, Sarina Farhadi and Alireza Jahandideh