A Hero (Asghar Farhadi – 2021) A

We follow him as he walks out of jail. Confusing at first. Little to no introduction is given for his background. Is he taking “leave” from prison? Well, yes, apparently Rahim is in debtor’s prison. Both that and leave from it for a few days is a thing still in Iran where this excellent film is set. Until he can repay his debt to his debtor he might just have to stay in there, or until said debtor drops the charges. How is he supposed to pay if he is in jail? Good question. The central story is around Rahim, his girlfriend and a bag of gold coins they found. This amount of money if he manages to sell it can possibly release him from jail. He can then marry this girlfriend and become a better father to his son. Instead he manages to find the supposed owner of the bag and returns the money. This triggers all kinds of events where the prison officials want to capitalize on the good behavior of this inmate who was reformed.

Thing is, Rahim attempted to sell the coins initially but he was not happy about the value he would’ve gotten for them. Rahim did not exactly find the bag. His girlfriend did and their relationship is not public in a country that frowns upon such relationships. As small lies turn to bigger lies and the web of half-truths metastasizes we see more of the layers of this story. The guy who loaned Rahim the money is not a bad guy. He was also trying to do a good thing by helping this sap out and now he is out a few thousand dollars. Should he just be ok with Rahim now being a celebrity and forgive him because he apparently did a good deed that anyone should do? There are no easy answers here. Rahim might be a decent guy over all, but he also fucked up pretty bad with his family and finances. He seems to continue to make bad decisions. Everyone is a victim of a system that in many respects is very similar to our (pervasive social media, the pursuit of fame, predatory loan practices) that we can see reflections of our society in broad and specific strokes. It’s a film that does not spoon feed us the information and does not answer all our questions for us and leaves us with a long haunting shot that is tough to forget.

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