No good deed goes unpunished in director Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero, a Masters presentation at this year’s 57th Chicago International Film Festival. Iran has selected the film to represent this country at the 2022 Oscars in the category of best international feature film.
Farhadi, who also wrote the screenplay, tells the story of Rahim (Amir Jadidi), an unlucky graphic designer who finds a purse full of gold coins at a bus stop after being released from two days in debtor jail. . Right away, he became a media hero and a viral sensation.
When a local TV station airs a story about his good deed, he becomes a social media darling. Internet haters and trollers follow quickly.
Immediately, prison officials claim the story as an example of their rehabilitation efforts. A local charity, desperate to search for profile, turns to Rahim and showered him with praise and a cash reward, enough to get him out of the debt of the local loan shark, Braham (a Mohsen Tanabandeh sans soul), who has a personal ax to grind against Rahim, beyond actual debt.
Sir Walter Scott once wrote: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when at first we start to cheat.” The adage holds true in this myriad of lies, selfish postures, and face-saving weaknesses in Farhadi’s masterful social mosaic.
A Hero is both a fable of jealousy and small town engagement, and a premonitory warning of the dangers of the pervasive and destructive influence of social media.
There are many complex sub-texts involving attitudes towards inmates and social stigmas involving class, caste and gender, especially when it comes to women.
One interesting thing to observe is the precision with which these disparities are reflected in our own society. They are captured in microcosm in this brilliantly crafted film.
A Hero shows In-Person tonight at AMC East in a sold-out screening to start the final weekend of the 57th Chicago Film Festival. In Farsi with English subtitles. A Hero is slated for a US theatrical release on January 7, 2022. For more on this weekend’s schedule, visit chicagofilmfesival.com.