The Hero (2017)
Critic Consensus: The Hero rests on Sam Elliott's understated performance, which proves more than capable of carrying the film through the less inspired moments of its somewhat clichéd story.
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Critic Reviews for The Hero
It's one of his finest and most memorable performances. Unfortunately, the script fails to rise to the level of Elliott's artistry.
Two good things are not enough to goose this all-too-familiar tale of a selfish man who wakes up one day, realizes that he blew it and scrambles to fix it before it's too late.
The script around him doesn't do Elliott or the character justice, and is a missed opportunity at a late-in-life comeback role for the one-time Western star.
Is there an American actor of more meaningful solitude than Sam Elliott?
Nothing terribly novel here, but director Brett Haley has assembled a strong cast and a generous spirit, and Elliott has a way of finding poetry in silent gaze, speaking his lines as if written on velvet.
Of course the main selling point is Sam Elliott aka Lee Hayden. I don't even know who makes that barbecue sauce Lee is touting at the beginning of the film or whether it's really good or just mass-produced glop, but based on that voiceover, I'd buy it.
Audience Reviews for The Hero
Sam Elliott stars in the indie character drama The Hero. The story follows a washed up actor named Lee Hayden who strikes up a romance with a younger woman and struggles to come to terms with his cancer diagnosis. Elliott gives a strong performance and is backed by a solid supporting cast, including Laura Prepon and Nick Offerman. However, the script is a little weak and leaves a lot of things open-ended and unresolved. And the directing is also rather underwhelming. While it has some compelling performances, The Hero is held back by its poor storytelling.
Sam Elliott gives the best acting in a movie so far this year. Very poignant and moving as his character moves gracefully into an unwanted retirement and has to face his mortality. (7-16--17)
Sam Elliott needs more leading roles. As an aging, undercast actor facing his own mortality, he is entrancing. Coincidentally, he plays that exact role in "The Hero". His character, Lee, is past his prime, and instead of playing his cowboy typecast, he's voicing BBQ sauce ads and struggling to find work. Upon his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he begins to reevaluate his future and his past by doing copious amounts of drugs and getting involved with a much younger woman played by Donna from "That 70s Show". If you've seen "Birdman" or "The Wrestler" you aren't going to be surprised by Elliott's rocky relationship with his estranged daughter or his brief stint going viral on social media, but the trailer left out that he smokes a lot of pot with Nick Offerman. The film hardly breaks new ground in terms of storytelling, but amidst the familiar plotting is some genuine sentimentality, humor, and a sense that these characters are real people. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for sad old man movies like "A Man Called Ove" and "I, Daniel Blake". This film isn't as good as either of those, but like Natalie Portman in "Jackie", Elliott has an outstanding performance in a film that wouldn't be justified without him. It winds down fairly slow by the third act and has a few too many ending fake outs, but altogether the film is a satisfying existential watch.
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