Traditionally the film world hasn’t spent much time crafting stories around homelessness, and protagonists of that nature are rarely seen, much as homeless people are often ignored and discounted by society itself. So, naturally, Jake Gavin’s feature debut – the story of a homeless Scot trying to reconnect with his family – is a pleasant rarity. It manages to easily get past the aspect of its novelty by bringing to life a genuinely compelling, powerful tale that portrays part of the reality of being homeless in the 21st Century.
Hector opens on a cold December in Scotland, as Hector (Peter Mullan) and his friends are preparing for their annual trip to a Christmas shelter in London. In poor health and in the midst of a tragedy, he realises his need to reconnect with his past and his family. Forced to withstand equal levels of kindness and cruelty as he makes his journey south, Hector must hold on to the hope that, after a 15-year absence, he can finally reunite with his siblings for Christmas.
For the most part, Hector is very well crafted and entertains as much as it spreads awareness about homelessness and the people it afflicts. Peter Mullan is extremely believable as a Scotsman living rough, which may be due in equal parts to a good performance and intelligent casting. The script, too, and the characters Hector interacts with on his journey demonstrate vastly different attitudes towards him, giving the film a very authentic feel. Almost from the opening scene the audience is made to fully sympathise with a character representing a person many attempt to avoid, which is quite an achievement alone.
On the other hand, the reason for Hector’s homelessness is revealed and, if anything, is unnecessarily over-explained. Likewise there is a scene that takes place on Christmas Day that seems more like a “help the homeless” advert, meaning a loss of some of the subtlety that had been maintained so well in the first half. Nevertheless, outside of Gavin’s apparent need to fully spell out the messages he was anxious to convey, Hector is a film that is definitely worth watching. With brilliantly developed characters and an exceptional first half, it really does succeed at putting homelessness on the big screen in an entertaining and thoughtful way.
Hector is released in selected cinemas on 11th December 2015.
Watch the trailer for Hector here: