Movie Review: 'A Hero'

John Thomas

Inmates in Iranian prisons are allowed to petition for a brief leave from their sentence to return to the outside world. Rahim Soltani (Amir Jadidi), incarcerated for an unpaid debt, has done just that. He is granted a two-day leave to try to resolve a money problem with his creditor, the man who had him imprisoned.

Rahim claims he has most of the money to repay his debt. Carrying a bag of clothes to be laundered he returns to the family home where he is enthusiastically welcomed, especially with the news he may not have to return to prison.

The source of the money to repay his huge debt remains his secret. 

Shortly before requesting his leave, Rahim had received a call from his secret girl friend telling him that she had found a purse with a broken handle lying on the ground at a bus stop. The purse contained 17 gold coins.

Reunited, she and Rahim visit a coin dealer to sell them. The price of gold has dropped so Rahim decides to postpone the sale.

Having second thoughts about keeping the coins, he goes to a bank near the bus stop to inquire if anyone has reported a missing purse –he has decided if possible, to return it to its owner. The bank employees deny knowing anything of a missing purse, but are so impressed with his act of kindness they offer to print posters advertising it to distribute throughout the neighborhood.

With his leave over, Rahim returns to prison. Before leaving home, however, he gives the purse and details of its contents to his sister, should anyone come to claim it. Someone does and mysteriously disappears. Telling of his adventures with the gold coins and his wish to return them, the prison authorities become as impressed with his kind act as were the bank employees.

Through the posters, the media becomes aware of his actions and features the story on the daily news. Finally a television station sends a camera crew to the prison for an in-depth interview. For additional footage, the crew also films him at the bus stop and the bank. The story becomes a big news item. Rahim has become a hero.

Escalating his fame, a charitable organization holds a benefit in his honor, and also to generate funds for the other programs they sponsor.

More fame follows. A major television network wants to do a feature program on Rahim’s story. They only have several questions to settle first. The station has received an anonymous tip that the coin story is a lie fabricated by Rahim to get out of prison. If he can respond to this anonymous tip adequately, the problem can be put aside and they can proceed with the show. The main questions are if the 17 coins existed the first place, how he found them and who claimed them?

Once again Rahim is out of prison. This time, again, to generate the money to pay back his debt, but more importantly to find the woman who claimed ownership of the purse. If he can locate her and she is willing to come forth to the media, the dark cloud hovering over his character and reputation can be dispelled. He might also be released from prison and returned to his family and secret fiancée. 

“A Hero” is directed by Asghar Farhadi (Credits: The Past, A Separation) and runs 128 minutes. It is a “Should See” as this captivating story evolves against the setting of modern day Iran.


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