Directed by Brett Haley
Lee, a former Western film icon, is living a comfortable existence lending his golden voice to advertisements and smoking weed. After receiving a lifetime achievement award and unexpected news, Lee reexamines his past, while a chance meeting with a sardonic comic has him looking to the future.
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★★★½ review by Hellasguy315 on Letterboxd
Sam Elliot brings it every time.
★★★★½ review by DBC on Letterboxd
I selfishly hope that 73-year-old Sam Elliott turns out to be like Harry Dean Stanton and we get another 20 years (at least) of great performances out of him. I hope his mind, body, and soul would be up for that. I think Brett Haley's The Hero is evidence that he might.
In the film Elliott plays Lee, an aging actor best known for his cowboy roles but has now been relegated largely to doing voice-over work. For Elliott, it's a partially autobiographical role, albeit a much harsher take on the reality of his fairly diverse and successful career. Still, Lee is an interesting idea: the former Western star who, now that his genre (like the Western frontier itself) has all but disappeared, has evolved into a mostly modern older west coast gentleman. Lee's idea of a good day is one spent getting high, eating Chinese takeout, and watching Buster Keaton's The General. Occasionally he'll take a break from that to record dialogue for a BBQ sauce commercial or something. It's a life filled with regrets about career and family that are mostly being glossed over with a numbing-yet-comfortable routine, until the day Lee learns he has pancreatic cancer.
The story of The Hero is not the most unique in the world, as there are plenty of movies about people having to suddenly come to grips with their own mortality. But there's enough that's special about the way this particular tale is told to make it a very worthwhile viewing. Sam Elliott gives one of those Oscar-worthy, late-in-the-career-defining performances. Laura Prepon is a good match as the mysterious younger woman who looks like she might be just what Lee needed at this moment in his journey. Nick Offerman shows some range as Jeremy, the anti-Ron Swanson, Lee's friend and former co-star who is now a perma-baked drug dealer with a penchant for 21st century motivational memes.
The Hero also reconnects us to the sometimes-forgotten scenic beauty of Los Angeles. There are a lot of shots of the out-of-doors world of L.A., just letting it breathe, because this is a movie that takes a lot of moments to just soak in the beauty of life, wherever it might be, which is a good thing to remember to do, celebrity or not, cancer or not. And that's this movie at the core: remembering the beauty and poetry of life that is there, waiting for us to acknowledge it, to assign our own meaning to it, and to do the grindwork necessary to keep engaging it, whatever that might be for each of us. Again, not a completely novel notion, but an important one, and it's presented in this film with a lot of artistry by all parties involved, and it makes The Hero one of those all-around beautiful Indie films that definitely deserves to have more eyeballs on it.
★★★½ review by Connor Carey on Letterboxd
Funny and moving, "The Hero" is one of the finest and most underrated movies of the year. Its premise and themes have been explored many times before but this film rises above most others because of the fantastic performance from Sam Elliot and a great sense of realism. This movie blends comedy and drama together perfectly and the film has several scenes that nearly brought a tear to my eye. I can't stress this enough though Sam Elliot is phenomenal, this is the best performance I've ever seen from him and I couldn't see anyone else playing this part better than he did. The scene where he's reading lines for a script might just be some of the finest acting I've ever seen in a movie. I really hope more people check this out soon, we hopefully have our first lock for Best Actor.
★★★★ review by Wayne on Letterboxd
Sam Elliot gives the very best performance of his very lengthy career in "The Hero". When he's on screen you can't take your eyes off of him. The films explores so many different themes in interesting ways and I really enjoyed this movie. I do wish there was more time spent on the relationship between the lead and his daughter but that's just a minor complaint in such a great movie. Go see this one.
★★★★ review by Jerome1994 on Letterboxd
Sam Elliott is one of those actors who really has been in a ton of garbage films, he's one of my favorite actors too. Luckily I can say that this is definitely one of the strongest movies he's been in and actually one of the strongest performances of his career (from the films I've seen.) not only is Sam Elliott fantastic in this movie but the cinematography was beautiful and the writing was actually not too bad! There was humor that I thought worked, the pacing was a little awkward at times but for the most part it really delivered. I definitely recommend this movie especially if you are a long time Sam Elliott fan!
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