Film Review: Hector

Hector is a most promising first feature film by director Jake Gavin. Hector McAdam, portrayed by Peter Mullan, is homeless. He relentlessly wanders from one motorway service station to the next. Fifteen years ago, an ordeal that he cannot move past alienated him from his everyday life and made him abandon everything he ever cared about, including his family and friends. He has made an ally out of the streets, a safe haven, far from his tragic past.

However, as he is about to start his annual pilgrimage from Glasgow to London where he is used to spending Christmas time in a shelter, all of a sudden, this past resurges.

More than a simple expedition to London, the trip is a journey to finally be at peace with the people he has left behind, and with himself. Hector is a bittersweet tale of late coming of age, of loss and mourning, but also one of love and forgiveness. A story about a man’s revival and his long process of healing to find a taste for life again.

The film is shot with a simplicity which obstructs any hint of superficiality: long shots showing the gorgeous rawness of Scottish landscapes, close-ups on Hector’s exhausted and wrinkled face. The image focuses on the raw, the core of the everyday life of a homeless. Add a bit of humour and a bunch of natural, moving actors, and Hector may remind some of Ken Loach’s social realist films. Mullan especially, once again, proves to be an actor of talent able to adapt to the roles he plays with a powerful sincerity.

Hector is of these heart-wrenching, eye-opening films that convey a strong message. The film, through the character of Hector, gives a voice to all those homeless people too often ignored. It is an invitation for us to show more compassion towards them.

Gavin delivers to the audience a unique and fictive slice of life, although it could be anyone’s. The film succeeds in painting a story that feels genuine: it is neither pessimistic nor shallow but profoundly hopeful and human, and that is where it draws its strength from.  

[Gabrielle Gonçalves]

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