Published on June 24th, 2015 | by Allan Brown0
EIFF 2015: Hector Review
Movie Review: Hector (2015)
Running Time: 98 mins
Director: Jake Gavin
Writer: Jake Gavin
Cast: Peter Mullan, Keith Allen, Natalie Gavin, Sarah Solemani, Stephen Tompkinson, Ewan Stewart, Christine Tremarco
Hector marks an impressive début for writer-director Jake Gavin who conveys a warm and honest character study of homelessness in Britain.
When an undisclosed hospital appointment concludes with a planned date for surgery, Hector’s (Peter Mullan) annual trip to London for some festive cheer with friends, is put on hold as his thoughts and focus shift to family.
Sleeping from doorways and disabled toilets to service stations and shelters, we follow Hector on his long and arduous journey south; in his bid to reconnect with loved ones he has not seen in over sixteen years.
Despite Hector’s tough existence, he is for the most part content. He has his friends Hazel (Natalie Gavin) and Dougie (Laurie Ventry), collects his pension each week, and gets by as best he can. He is an honest and caring man, and despite being homeless, he shows tremendous strength, purpose and conviction in the things he does.
Gavin choice to frame the character and the subject matter in this light is nothing short of a breath of fresh air, a liberating experience that is devoid of the usual social stereotypes so common in such films. He presents each and every character as a real person, and each with their own unique story. Yet despite us learning very little of our characters histories, the threads are all there – you just have to connect the dots. Instead of vocalising every past trauma, Gavin’s refusal to bathe his characters in melancholy or wallow in self-pity, skilfully allows him to avoid the usual pitfalls of character cliques and labelling. This instead presents a real honesty and integrity to the film and it’s subject.
Actress Sarah Solemani offers a touching performance as homeless shelter volunteer Sara. She is a warm and engaging presence on screen and her scenes with Mullan are quite beautiful. There are many other stand-out performances throughout, some are fleeting cameos (Keith Allen, Christine Tremarco), while others are more integral to the story (Natalie Gavin, Ewan Stewart, Stephen Tompkinson). But it is the warmth, charm and subtle vulnerability of Peter Mullan’s lead performance that anchors Hector in genuine authenticity.
Summary: Hector is a crowning achievement for all involved. Its grit and integrity to the subject is testament to the skill of Jake Gavin’s writing and directing, while Peter Mullan reminds us all why he is regarded as one of the greatest working-actors in Britain today.