“A hero”, the severe social geometry of Asghar Farhadi


A man waits, seated, in the long corridor of an administrative building. At the call of his name, he gets up and goes through a door, travels a few kilometers to reach a cliff pierced with openings between which we see bas-reliefs (we will learn later that it is the tomb of Emperor Xerxes), covered with scaffolding. The man climbs tens of meters, we greet him by name, Brahim. Arrived at the top, Brahim (Amir Jadidi) is greeted by one of the construction workers whom a replica presents as his brother-in-law and who invites him to come down immediately.

Read the review of “Everybody Knows”: The human mechanics of unhappiness

This somewhat tedious description of the first sequence of‘A hero to warn that after his Spanish and romantic excursion (Everybody Knows, presented at Cannes in 2018), Asghar Farhadi has rediscovered both his homeland, Iran, and the geometric rigor that characterizes his cinema. Brahim’s ascent and descent clearly foreshadows what will follow, the story of an impossible redemption, which inflicts on the main protagonist a course calculated to the nearest millimeter, the turning points of which are marked by the enumeration of the evils that make happiness in society impossible, whether they are specifically Iranian or universal. Contrary to what happened in About Elly or A separation and perhaps because the film is set in Shiraz, city of carpets, it is here the geometry of the social scheme that outweighs the pain of men and women.


The actor Amir Jadidi, July 8, in the premises of Memento, in Cannes.

Brahim has been granted leave of absence from the prison in which he is locked for debt, a seemingly human prison, where he has been vegetating for three years. He can get out of it quite often – he met a woman, Farkhondeh (Sahar Goldust) whom he would like to marry, after a painful divorce that left him with custody of a son with speech impairments. But lo and behold, Farkhondeh found in the street a purse full of gold coins, which could help with debt repayment and Brahim’s enlargement.

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At the time of the revelation of this find, Farhadi still has a hundred minutes left. He employs them to bang this pretty boy who is perpetually smiling (which infuriates or softens both the other characters and the audience) against the inflexibility of his creditor, against the dishonesty of the citizens and of those who are supposed to maintain order and morality (embodied here by the prison administrators), against the brutality of the Iranian judicial system (it will also be a question of the death penalty), against social networks and the public establishment of privacy.

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