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Review: The Hero – “A perceptive meditation on life and what we leave behind”

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Sam Elliott stars in Brett Haley’s latest film. Elliott plays Lee Hayden, an ageing movie star, most famous for his role in Westerns. His best days are behind him and he now spends his days recording voice-overs for commercials and smoking pot with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman). He ends up getting some bad news which causes him to reassess his life and reconnect with those he left behind.

The Hero is nothing new, but what could have been schmaltzy and cheesy, is turned into a perceptive meditation on life and what we leave behind by Sam Elliott’s powerhouse performance. I have always enjoyed watching Elliott. His voice is truly wonderful and his moustache is one of the greatest ever seen!

In The Hero, he gives an emotional, yet restrained performance as Lee Hayden. It all feels very authentic, despite the film occasionally falling into cliche. The character of Lee is at first simply coasting through the remains of his life reminiscing about his golden days while drinking and smoking. As he comes to terms with his own mortality he deals with what truly matters and every step of the way Elliott is just outstanding.

“A movie is someone else’s dream,” is said at one point and does help bring a fine perspective to what matters to Lee. There are moments like that in the script that really hit home, couple that with how beautifully shot it all is, does add up to a rather wonderful film.

It won’t be for everyone as it is slow paced, and the previously mentioned cliche moments does make the story predictable in places, but the performances from Sam Elliott, Nick Offerman, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter and Katharine Ross elevate it to a most pleasing level. It is a melancholy look on life and death, but there are moments of humour that help lift the mood when needed.

I for one loved the film and some of the shots really capture the duality of life – the mythic quality of a movie star and the day to day existence of a normal life.

The Hero is out now on DVD and digital download.

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