American Hero (2015) was written and directed by Nick Love. It stars Stephen Dorff as Melvin Hesper and Eddie Griffin as Lucille. The film is a mocumentary about an American addict with telekinetic psychic abilities. The film starts out with the search of the missing Melvin. We get introduced to Lucille, a paraplegic who we later learn is Melvin’s closest friend. We learn instantly that Melvin is kind of a loser as we find him passed out on the street after a night of partying on the day of his court date for visitation rights with his son. Melvin loses his rights and we watch him fall into despair as he loves his son. The only way Melvin knows how to cope with any emotional pain is through his substance abuse, and as the film progresses it gets worse.
Along the way, many of his loved ones will warm him and plead for him to change. We also see him use his powers for cheap parlor tricks and to help feed his addiction. There are also several sub plots that the film introduces. Lucille living his life as a paraplegic, and a plot about drugs and gang violence in the city of New Orleans. They do a decent job implementing them to Melvin’s narrative and although they weren’t necessary, they weren’t distracting enough to take out.
The format that they used was incredibly effective to tell this story. You get to see how addiction affects Melvin directly, but you also get to see the effects on the people around them. In interviews with the other characters, you get to learn aspects of Melvin’s life that would be lost if it were shot any other way. You get to learn that he is smart, that he has these gifts, that he is kind. But you also get to see the hurt his loved ones feel as he continues to spiral. As mild as it might seem for a movie about addiction, I think that it handles the topic rather well. You can see Melvin doesn’t want to be lost in his addiction, but it is the only way he knows how to handle his pain. Anytime Melvin endures hardship, you can still see the pain as tries desperately to numb it out. I particularly like how they contrast the scenes of his benders with people telling him to slow down and change. To me, it makes the scenes where he is partying sad.
My favorite part of the movie was the relationship Melvin had with Lucille. There was a bond that they shared that was stronger than anything and as lost as Melvin gets, he still has Lucille and I though that was cool. And Lucille isn’t just the comic relieve. I think Eddie Griffin does a great job as Lucille. You can see him fighting to come to terms with his disability and you also see him worry and care for his friend.
All in all, I recommend watching this movie. Yeah it a low score on the rating websites but I think its at least worth checking out. It is a different kind of super hero narrative because throughout it, Melvin isn’t a hero. Nor is Melvin a hero, he’s just some normal guy trying to be normal but doesn’t know how to. Yeah, the CGI isn’t great, but it’s not distracting. Overall, I give this film an 8 out of 10. The ending wasn’t great and some of the scenes dragged on for a bit. Don’t skip this one.
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