Perception can be everything to a person. How they see themselves. How others see them. It can all influence the actions we take, and never is it as straightforward as it might seem. A Hero dives head first into the impact a single decision can have on an entire community, and how perception can be twisted and distorted to individual identities. It’s a complex film that explores both the good and the bad sides of a coin as it lays everything out on the table leaving audiences to make their own decisions about these characters and their lives.
Rahim (Amir Jadidi) has been sent to prison for failing to repay a debt he owes, but after being granted a two-day leave, he comes into possession of a purse filled with gold coins. At first, he decides to cash them in and pay off his debt to get out of prison, but ultimately he decides to find the owner and return the lost property. In doing so, Rahim finds himself constantly being questioned by those around him, making him wonder if he did the right thing.
Everyone knows the saying “No good deed goes unpunished.” A Hero examines that phrase with intense precision, dissecting its implications and unraveling all of its uneven consequences. Rahim’s good deed is giving back the purse and coins despite needing the money to pay off his debt. Initially it looks like he’s going to be rewarded for his selflessness, but his past never fully escapes him and his story is quickly questioned. The challenge comes when there are inconsistencies in his story and little lies that chip away at the truth’s core. Things continue to snowball when the jail and charity who get involved suddenly find themselves in defense of their own reputation. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see everything and everyone surrounding Rahim fall apart, including himself, because of his single good deed.
At the center of A Hero is the perception we all have, of both ourselves and others. Rahim genuinely wants to turn his life around and repay his debt, but his past isn’t something that others can overlook. They perceive him to be lying and conning everyone because he’s done it before. Rahim isn’t perfect, and oftentimes makes a situation worse by letting his emotions get the better of him. He digs his own hole deeper, caught up in the same vicious cycle of lies that he can never fully escape from. A lot of it is of his own doing but also the pressure from those around him. It’s an impossible situation to fully escape from; one that will make you question if it really was worth it to return the coins by the end of the movie as he could have easily kept them and paid off his debt without many questions asked.
A Hero brings all these different complex themes to light and makes you sit with them and think. It doesn’t offer any definitive answer, either, forcing you to come to your own conclusions. Director Asghar Farhadi delivers a brilliant and eye-opening character study with A Hero and truly makes you think about the blurred lines of what makes something good or bad.