Lee Hayden is a veteran actor of Westerns whose career's best years are behind him after his one really great film, "The Hero." Now, scraping by with voice overs for commercials, Lee learns that he has a terminal prognosis of pancreatic cancer. Unable to bring himself to tell anyone about it, especially his estranged family, Lee can only brood alone as troubling, yet inspiring, dreams haunt him. Things change when he meets Charlotte Dylan, a stand-up comedian who becomes a lover who inadvertently jump-starts his public profile. Now facing a profound emotional conflict of having a potential career comeback even as his imminent death is staring him in the face, Lee must finally come to terms with both realities when he finally confesses his situation to the one person he can.
By reading a brief synopsis or watching the trailer, this could possibly be shrugged off as an over-familiar script to some. Exceedingly beyond all glory days, a brooding ex-superstar is determined to raise the bar in life once more in a now or never life situation. Sure it isn’t nearly among the first times we’ve come across a story like this, but when aiming to stand out from the rest, even if it’s just a little bit, there’s not much to complain about.
What starts off as a simple day-to-day life story of one man soon becomes far more complicated when things change drastically. Looking at the big picture, this is set as a redemption story that holds back from coming on too strong and paces itself in a more down to earth manner. Whatever you may take from it at the end of the day, the one thing it doesn’t stress enough is that age shouldn’t belittle someone from being at their best, especially in a storytelling perspective.
As far as brilliant casting would go, Sam Elliott is the true hero here. Taking you on an emotional journey from start to finish, whether it would be a subtle laugh, a heavy feel trip or time of bittersweet joy, there’s never a dull moment of his presence on screen. Not only is he great within himself, he branches out on some wholehearted complications with the rest of the cast without letting it be completely about him.
Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) steps into the role of a long-time friend and weed dealer to Elliott, together they share some extreme heart to heart moments in some of the best scenes to offer. Laura Prepon (That ‘70s Show, Orange Is the New Black) is the sparky love interest who holds up nicely to the romantic side of the film. Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones, Breaking Bad) and Katharine Ross are great picks for the strained family relationship that adds more depth to this drama as well. Most who have sprung from successful TV backgrounds, the supporting cast are a pleasant variety in character and play at their best alongside Elliott.
Heartrending and heartwarming on so many levels, The Hero is a film that many people can find some way of relating to with an excellent cast to back it up.
DVD Releases: 9th May 2018
Rating: M – Contains sex scenes, offensive language & drug use
Duration: 93 minutes
Genre: Comedy Drama
Starring: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter
Director: Brett Haley (The New Year)
Katharine Ross's first feature film after a ten year absence from cinema.
Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross are married in real life.
When Sam Elliott originally received the script, the film was titled "Iceberg."
Sam Elliott and Nick Offerman starred together on several episodes of Parks and Recreation with Elliott playing Ron Dunn, the Eagleton counterpart of Ron Swanson (Offerman).