A Hero (2021) - Asghar Farhadi
Farhadi remains a stellar dramatist with A Hero, his best film since A Separation, which beautifully unravels narratively to deliver a potent rumination on ethical living. Detailing a moral universe that simply isn't as straightforward or binary as we often pretend it is, A Hero wonderfully encaptures how an moral life is ultimately driven by nothing more than personal choice. The main protagonist of this story is a victim of chance, circumstance, and desperation. Every attempt he makes to control his situation fails. It is only when he acts out of selflessness, not due to concern of public perception but love for his son that he finds some semblance of peace, despite the harsh material conditions which he will continue to face. The cruelties of living are obstacles that must be navigated, some may be directly linked to our actions, others may not, but inevitably one must choose themselves to do what they believe is the right thing to do, it can not be tied to any other external factors, whether exploitative or altruistic in their perceived action. How A Hero examines the power of perception informed by social media is particularly incisive and ties into this idea of ethical living. Farhadi doesn't lazily attach negative or positive associations to the technological innovation itself, he instead pensively recognizes the power it wields over social perceptions. It hasn't created anything new, it simply exacerbates or enhances certain illusions or perceptions. The flow of information that was always a part of society has been increased substantially by technology but fundamentally speaking, nothing has changed. Social capital still grants power which is driven by the perception of others. This technology is just a new type of currency, a new tool that hasn't fundamentally redefined our social world but simply accelerated our social faults related to passing judgment. A Hero is certainly one of Farhadi's best recent efforts. Through a wonderfully rendered drama that is taut and engaging it invokes such a simple truth - despite life being hard and things not being fair it's always a choice to be kind to others.
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