The Hero

review by Bobby Blakey

To say Sam Elliott is a great actor is an understatement. The man known for his distinctive voice, tough guy persona and the best mustache in the industry continues to shine in every project he is involved in. His latest film, The Hero offers up a different kind of performance and a great supporting cast including Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, and Kristen Ritter, but does it do this iconic actor justice or will it not be able to live up to the title?

The Hero follows Lee Hayden, 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. Going into this film I knew nothing other than the cast involved so knew it had to have something special about it, but didn’t expect a movie that was just a straight showcase of pure acting brilliance. This isn’t an overly exciting or funny film, but instead offers a somewhat sad look into this characters multiple life struggles and allows the always awesome Elliott to stretch his acting in a variety of directions.

I loved that despite the moments that could have made the character weaker it never does, but instead just shows cracks in his rough exterior while keeping it all intact. Sam Elliott is better than ever and once again proves why he is such an iconic actor. He was perfectly cast for this role and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it was written specifically for him. The rest of the cast all do a great job as well with Prepon offering up a perfect counter to his persona yet still maintains a deep emotional connection that you believe. Offerman is always great and shines here as well as Elliott’s longtime friend with their scenes giving you a more relaxed look at his character in the one place he seems to be the most comfortable.

In the end this is one of those movies that might be slow to some due to the nature of the story it is telling, but it is supposed to be as it is imitating real life. It has a humorous and subtle open and closing that bookends his journey to perfection and reminds you just how memorable Elliott is in any role.

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