In the UK there are thousands sleeping rough every night, going about their day-to-day lives with nowhere to call home. Shedding filmic light on the homeless community is filmmaker Jake Gavin with his stunning directorial debut ‘Hector’, which stars Peter Mullan in the title role. After years of dossing down at motorway service stations up and down the country with friends Dougie (Laurie Ventry) and Hazel (Natalie Gavin), Hector wants to reconnect with the family, and tracks down his brother-in-law Derek in an attempt to reconcile with his siblings. Presenting the spectrum of human perception of the destitute, ranging from kindness to cruelty, the film not only focuses on the tender story of the protagonist but tackles the wider issues, raising important questions over the true necessities of life.
The linear narrative expertly illustrates Hector’s routine, and the morning, noon and night of his lifestyle. Daily requirements such as washing, eating and going along to the local shop for groceries are highlighted in a way that normalises events despite not having a bed to crawl into at the end of a long day. Filmed so naturally that it nearly feels documentarian at times, we witness the hectic goings on of life carry on around characters that have sadly slipped through the cracks of society. Mullan is astounding in the lead part, portraying Hector as warm-hearted and good natured but with loneliness and heartache in his eyes. Strong acting support is provided by all concerned, perhaps most notably from Sarah Solemani, who is excellent as shelter-worker Sara, sharing touching moments with Hector and the compassion shown by her character restores faith in humanity.
‘Hector’ is thought-provoking cinema at its best, taking a man who will make you smile and placing him in situations that’ll make you cry, and evoking a host of emotions through a series of social interactions. With Peter Mullan’s enormously heartfelt performance at its core, the film allows us as an audience to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and to place value in the things we hold most important. Being dealt a bad hand is in no way aligned with being a bad person, or a lesser person at that, and Jake Gavin’s brilliantly written and directed story is a glowing example of this.
Read my interview with Sarah Solemani!