The Hero is one of the best films of the year, but doesn't get the credit where it's due. There wasn't enough buzz about this film. Maybe if it was released later in the season, it could have been a stronger contender among films. This film was directed by Brett Haley, written by both Marc Basch and Brett Haley, and produced by Houston King, Sam Bisbee, and Erik Rommesmo. This film is distributed by The Orchard.
Sam Elliot plays Lee Hayden, a revered cowboy actor, trying to find the meaning of his life as he is diagnosed with cancer. He pays his bills by continuing to use his infamous voice. Because of the lack of responsibility during his younger years, he was hardly around to raise his daughter, Lucy (Krysten Hayden) who is now and adult. At his pot dealer’s house, he comes in contact with a woman who is atleast 35 years his junior, Charlotte Dylan (Laura Prepon). She is a comedian. They both try to find some semblance of their relationship.
Lee accepts an award for The Western Appreciation Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and turns into an overnight sensation on You Tube while being wasted. He dreams of making a film, but it is mostly a fantasy. Coping with aging, cancer, and a new girlfriend changes the way he sees things. He is overwhelmed and turns to marijuana for the answer. Realizing that denial is no way to live his life, Lee vows to change and reconcile his relationship with his daughter. But because he is older…there are only so many things he can't control.
In his dreams….Lee is still a timeless hero. Even as an older gentleman, I found Sam Elliot to have major sex appeal. This however dwindled when his girlfriend, Charlotte did a comedy stint about old men and old balls that have dropped. Then, I couldn’t see him as that anymore. Yep. That slowed down my libido for the rest of the movie. I also began to view him more as a father figure to Charlotte than a lover.
If one thing was clear, it was how fragile life is. How we take moments with people for granted and then suddenly they vanish into thin air. I believed that Lee Heyden had good intentions about making a film. I think he believed it at first, but there were too many things that needed to be resolved first, and that he needed to be alright with himself before taking on any acting assignments. The the real question he had to ask himself was, "What am I capable of?and "Can I be okay with who I am now with most of my life behind me?"
Sam Elliot didn’t have to try to hard too hard to impress. This stellar performance seemed effortless. We saw a range of emotion from comical, angry, reflection, denial, and sadness. This was a great little indie film that I wish could have had more commercial success or better critical acclaim.
Cinematography made wonderful connections between light and sound, the beach and on the dusty road of The Hero..in his dream. Shots are vivid, crisp and clear. This was an excellent film. Casting by ….was exact. Altogether, this film was a silent sleeper on my list of films for this season. An unexpected delight. Insight into aging and that we must all realize the things that are most important like our health, fulfillining dreams, and commitment to relationships with the ones we love. Overall, I would rate this film 4 stars out of 4!
Cast are not limited to:
Sam Elliott as Lee Hayden
Laura Prepon as Charlotte
Krysten Ritter as Lucy
Nick Offerman as Jeremy
Katharine Ross as Valarie