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A Hero, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday night and screened again at the fest on Wednesday, has emerged as the odds-on favorite to win the Palme d’Or, and a strong bet to become the Iranian entry for the best international feature Oscar.
The Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi helmed two previous winners of that Oscar, A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016), and thrice previously premiered films on the Croisette with The Past (2013), The Salesman and Everybody Knows (2018), but has yet to walk away with a Cannes prize.
That looks almost certain to change given the response by audiences (voluminous applause) and critics (nearly universal raves) to A Hero, a neorealist drama about morality, honor and, yes, social media, in present-day Iran, which Amazon is set to release stateside in the fall.
The film centers on Rahim (Amir Jadidi), a working-class man separated from his first wife, with whom he has a stuttering young son, who has spent three years incarcerated for defaulting on a debt (the equivalent of U.S. $35,625), but is given leave for two days, during which he tries to turn around his fortunes, but quickly finds himself caught in a web of white lies.
Farhadi has crafted a complex tale that seems frighteningly plausible, given that every character has proper justification for their actions, even as those actions collide to the benefit of no one. A Separation came from a similarly intricate script, and brought Farhadi a best original screenplay Oscar nom. The same outcome seems likely for this script. And I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a directing nom, either. A Hero is Farhadi at his best.
The rest is up to Iran. The nation entered four previous Farhadi films for the Oscars — 2009’s About Elly…, A Separation, The Past and The Salesman — and will almost certainly submit A Hero, too, particularly if it wins a major prize at Cannes. If and when it does that, the film will immediately become a frontrunner in the category.
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