“The Hero” – Atlanta Film Festival Review (3.5 of 5 Stars)

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By Rebecca Daniel, Senior Editor

Starring: Sam Elliot, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, Katharine Ross

Directed by: Brett Haley

Have you had a positive influence on those around you? What can you do to mend the relationships you’ve broken? Who will you affect if you’re gone?

Eventually, we all have to confront mortality. Lee Hayden (Sam Elliot) has to do so sooner than expected due to an unexpected cancer diagnosis. Instead of accepting his diagnosis, the former Western star vows to make another movie. While he tries to stall the inevitable, Lee slowly understands the reality of impending mortality and importance of legacy. 

Director Brett Haley brilliantly cast Sam Elliot in the lead role. He is pitch perfect as Lee Hayden. He carries the film as a former Western star known as “The Hero” looking back on his past mistakes while unsure of his time left in the future. Elliot plays Lee with the strong presence we’re all used to from the iconic actor. Yet he provides the film with many emotional moments that leave you feeling truly moved. As Lee tries to fix his past mistakes, he attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife (Katharine Ross) and estranged daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter). In one particularly impressive scene, Lee tries to reconcile with Lucy as years of past emotion come to the forefront. It’s an effective scene that Elliot and Ritter performer masterfully. 

One of my complaints about the film would be Lee’s relationship with Charlotte (Laura Prepon), a young comedian. The two are introduced by Lee’s drug dealer Jeremy (Ron Swanson Nick Offerman) a character who brought several humorous moments to the film. I did appreciate the way Charlotte helped Lee actually enjoy his life. However, the two have a really strange dynamic. Beyond the 35-year age difference, she uses him as the topic of some downright nasty comedic material without consultation. Then she comes back to him without much of a resolution. In a film where the lead characterization is so strong, Charlotte’s is rather weak. 

Despite a few missteps with Charlotte’s supporting storyline, The Hero is an introspective and thought provoking look at one man’s life and legacy. 

3.5 out of 5 stars

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