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Sam Elliott as Lee in The Hero.

Courtesy of Taro

2.5 out of 4 stars

Title
The Hero
Written by
Brett Haley and Marc Basch
Directed by
Brett Haley
Starring
Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon and Krysten Ritter
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

I thought the romance would be the worst thing about this drama. Sam Elliott plays Lee, a worn out cowboy actor with an angry ex (Katharine Ross, Elliott's real wife), an estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter) and a cancer diagnosis. No one is more startled than he when he tumbles into an affair with Charlotte (Laura Prepon), a stand-up comedian.

Now, Elliott is hale as hell for 72, but Prepon is 37. So I was pleasantly surprised that their palpable chemistry turns out to be the second-best thing in the film. It works, partly because the script (by director Brett Haley and his writing partner, Marc Basch) deals with the strangeness head on, and partly because Prepon makes Charlotte so singular.

The best thing about the film is the bromance between Lee and his weed dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), which deepens into loveliness in one memorable scene. Unfortunately, though, 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.

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