Movies are other people’s dreams.
Walking the line between fiction and reality isn’t exactly something new, countless films and TV shows have done that job very successfully. The Hero is one of the latest of its type, playing with our perception of what is fiction and what isn’t. The difference between the two here is, seemingly, harder to spot than what you might think.
The film follows an ageing actor, Lee, who found great success during the Western Era of film, dealing with his terminal illness. To do so, he will try to reconcile matters with his daughter and trying to bring his dream film to life, a final stand-off for his former glory, whilst founding a new passion with a younger woman.
The actor is played by Sam Elliott, the golden voiced performer who found great success with Westerns and, like many actors of that time, later struggled to make the jump and adapt to a post-Western Hollywood. However, if The Hero is any indication, Elliott has perfected his craft with every passing year. Here he delivers a truly sincere performance without which the film would tumble and fall, since the script is nothing we haven’t seen before, feeling quite raw in some places and overdone in others.
The supporting cast is also very good, specifically Laura Prepon and Krysten Ritter. The latter is in a relatively short amount of the film but delivers a heartfelt outing as Lee’s daughter, a woman who has distanced herself from her father (or was it the other way around?) to the point where the two became mere acquaintances, whilst the former plays the actor’s new love interest. Yes, unfortunately we are still writing plots about a young woman falling in love with an old man. Prepon’s character does make fun of that situation later in the film, however. The chemistry between Prepon and Elliott is great nonetheless and they do make their scenes together work and be some of the best moments of the film. Despite not liking how the relationship is written, I can’t deny that their last moment is moving, with Prepon reading out a poem whilst the camera focuses on Elliott’s reaction to it. It’s a powerful moment and by far the best scene of the film.
The ending left me a bit confused. I understand what the film was going for: a sense of loop and repetition around Lee’s life, but we’ve never seen that repetition before, so the ending doesn’t feel earned, instead it feels out of place. Perhaps it is a scene too long. Perhaps I just didn’t get it.
Ultimately, The Hero is a story of a man trying to find a second wind. An individual that has to stop looking back on his former glories and face forward, even if what’s ahead of him is uncertain.
The Hero is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!