Henrik Ibsen was keenly aware that most people are not noble—or heroic. They’re simply ordinary, which is the case with Rahim (Amir Jadidi), the “hero” in the Asghar Farhadi film A Hero (2019, on Prime Video), for Farhadi knows it too. Rahim is the Krogstad, the Hjalmar, etc. of the narrative and is conscientious but heavily in debt to a man with a low opinion of him. The creditor, Bahram, sees Rahim as a ingrate, refusing to honor him, as others honor him, for returning a bag of gold coins to a stranger who lost it. He was merely doing his duty, says Bahram.

A sympathetic figure, Rahim is on a precipice. His mind fiercely resists the idea of going back to debtors’ prison. A socioeconomic reality, this, but of course it is part of the broad canvas of human misery that emerges in Farhadi’s oeuvre. Iran, where the movie is set, produces defeat because life produces defeat. Yet we happen to believe—I do, anyway—that Rahim will endure. Even social media, an important element in this superb film, will not sink him.

(In Farsi with English subtitles)