A HERO – Review by Susan Granger

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Iran’s official Academy Award submission as it’s International Film is A Hero, a drama/thriller by two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, A Salesman), who sent critics (like me) a letter stating:

“Over the years, with the films I wrote and directed, I have always tried to create empathy between the audience and the characters on the screen; empathy, not only with one group of characters, but with both protagonists and antagonists. In ‘A Hero,’ I continue on the same path with a simple story that gradually turns into a complex situation.”

He goes on to add: “I believe empathy with characters puts the audience in an emotional state that causes them to make a fairer judgment about the characters and, hopefully, themselves.”

Set in the Iranian city of Shiraz, the film follows sign painter/calligrapher Rahim (Amir Jadidi), a divorced father imprisoned for debt, who is given a ‘furlough’ of 48 hours to convince his dour creditor, Bahram (Mohsen Tanabandeh) who runs a copying/printing store in a shopping mall, to drop the charges.

To consult with his brother-in-law Hossein (Alireza Jahandideh), Rahim climbs the scaffolding-covered Naqsh-e Rostam, a mountain necropolis containing the royal tombs of Persepolis, including the remains of Xerxes the Great.

A short time later, conscience-stricken Rahim decides to return a lady’s lost handbag containing 17 gold coins. His humanitarian gesture turns into a full-blown media event, catapulting him, his family and prison authorities into public scrutiny. It’s reflective of our contemporary ‘cancel culture’ – when somebody becomes famous for doing a good deed, others try to bring the hapless hero down.

The complex narrative explores universal themes of honesty, honor and the price of freedom by showing how half-truths and lies can erode the soul and exposing how insidious judgment by social media is increasingly prevalent.

In competition for the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, A Hero won the Grand Prix.

In Farsi with English subtitles/narration – on the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, A Hero is a subtly suspenseful 7, streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.