The Hero: DVD Review
Cast: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, Nick Offerman
Director: Brett Haley
Mixing melancholy and offbeat humour as well as a great deal of heart, The Hero centres around Sam Elliott's gravel-voiced one time Western actor Lee Hayden.
With a career that's been defined largely by one great role in a film called The Hero, Hayden's world has been reduced to doing voiceovers for BBQ sauce (in a nod to perhaps UK comedy show Toast of London).
Estranged from his daughter (Ritter) and separated from his wife, Lee's life is hit by an unexpected terminal cancer diagnosis, Lee's spending time brooding and smoking weed with former fellow actor Jeremy (Parks and Rec's laconic Nick Offerman).
But when he meets Laura Prepon's Charlotte by chance and an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award goes unexpectedly, his apparently over life changes in more ways than one...
The Hero's laid back ageing premise may hit differing audiences in differing ways.
However, Elliott's nuanced and rugged turn as Lee is emotionally resonant no matter how you view the film and its cliches.
Regardless of whether some of the film's plots follow an all-too familiar trajectory, there's something in Elliott's compellingly understated performance that's simply captivating.
Prepon plays enigmatic too, but there's a real sense of these two connecting despite a major age difference potentially in their way. Thanks to some sensitive direction, it just about works when, against all the odds, it really shouldn't.
Whether it's being lost in ruminations on his life, or being lost in a haze of drugs around Charlotte, Haley's script manages to coat everything in a forlorn fashion that plays to Elliott's silent strengths.
And there's something about this veteran actor that just fits the part.
There are elements of this which may seem almost autobiographical in many ways as the older generation of actors tries to find a place in Hollywood, and rides a revival, and at times, to be frank, the script treads an all too familiar line, but there's just something about this low-key indie from Sundance, with its drawling lead that makes The Hero a success in ways it shouldn't be.