The Hero Review - Magnificent, Beautiful, Affecting

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The Hero, from Houston King Productions and The Orchard, presents the story of the afterlife that most box office stars experience when agents send over commercial voice work, promises of deals, of offers soon and the intersection with fate.

Directed by Brett Haley, The Hero stars Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, Katherine Ross, with Patrika Darbo, Jackie Joyner, Andy Allo, Ali Wong, and Cameron Esposito and written by Marc Basch.

The Hero opens with Lee Hayden, played by Sam Elliot, a former Hollywood marquee name doing voice over takes with each one sounding the same as the voice supervisor continues to ask him “to do it again.”

On the drive home, Lee’s agent calls explaining while no real offers are coming in a group of the Western Society wants to give him a Lifetime Achievement award. Lee has one more stop before he heads back to his mountain oasis that keeps him sane in this world.

Lee has aged gracefully his white hair and rugged looks keep the women around and guessing and his reputation from his early days as the box office golden gunslinger with a heart has kept him over the years. Today, he is sitting alone in the doctors office, when the doctor played by Doug Cox, begins by saying “We had hoped for better results . . . “ the rest of course is a blur and unnecessary as the audience clearly understands cancer, who cares nothing for position or place, season or times, has arrived and it is bad.

Lee still lives the stoner life, a wake and bake guy, the next morning after drinking himself to sleep, with good cause, the weed is gone so it is off to his neighbor, a fellow actor who supplements the dry spells catering to his colleagues.

Finally sedated, Lee and Jeremy, played by Nick Offerman, are reminiscing over the season of The Hero that had promise. By mid-morning or afternoon, the doorbell rings and another artist in need arrives, Charlotte, played by Laura Prepon. She and Lee share a few words and she is off.

Lee is dealing with his medical news sedately, he is walking the beach and these scenes watching the Pacific are stunning, contemplating his news, the future, his unresolved relationships, the world and the brevity of it all, even now, after 71 years.

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The Hero is shot entirely around LA and the food truck culture is so ingrained in life that nearly everyone, from the Mayor to the rich and famous, billionaires and street people, working actors and out of work talent, all have a favorite and today Lee is buying a taco from his. Suddenly Charlotte, the artist in need comes around the corner and the two begin to flirt over tacos.

Lee is dying, in his mind, the question is treatment, do I subject myself to the torture of treatment or do I resign myself to death. As she is doing her best to be suggestively subtle he asks her if she is busy Sunday and would she want to be his date for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

After asking his daughter, played by Krysten Ritter, who turned him down flat. We find she has deeply unresolved parental issues also, a production orphan, her dad was always leaving to work on location and then one day he just left and didn’t come home to his family any more. And she, as we find out, thought this was her fault.

We also meet his former wife Valeria, played by Katharine Ross, who now a successful modernistic photographer. The two share the scene which is poignantly delivered without words and the sorrow of the diagnosis can be felt even as the camera pulls back capturing and not interfering.

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With one out of the way telling his daughter is next, and she is difficult to pin down, and he is as much to blame for her current attitude finally the two meet somewhere in Malibu overlooking the ocean. The scene, as everyone hopes that they’ll get a little longer, even when one is on bad terms, the hope is that we'll have enough time to make up, have a few more fights and finally leave at peace. This time it isn’t career that is robbing her.

Charlotte, the raven-haired beauty agreed to go to the event and soon the two are stoned and the party becomes the greatest night of recent memory. Lee, the gentleman performs his magic and suddenly his is trending and a trending celebrity is an in-demand celebrity and the next day after the two wake and realize a future, with an already dead ending, may start, things get a little shaky.

I enjoyed The Hero. The cast, who has won awards for the film, works beautifully together. It is important to mention the cinematography which I feel is a genuine leading character. From the mountains sunrises, oceans even the sprawling lights of LA from the hills, the beauty of Southern California is dominant, magnificent and gorgeous.

The Hero was good, the characters genuine, the dialogue unique. The Hero paints a picture of life in LA for a former box office name and doesn’t shy away from the baggage of the unresolved relationships, art imitating life, enough nature to forget teh present at least for a moment and of course the fact that fate will deal a cruel hand without consideration.

The Hero is in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles and expands to theaters everywhere in the next couple of week. Look for it. See it.


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