Starring the ever-reliable Peter Mullan in the title role, Hector is a watchable but slightly frustrating alternative road movie.
Following a homeless man’s Christmas-time pilgrimage from Scotland to a London shelter, writer-director Jack Gavin's feature debut begins with a vision of Britain that is austere and unforgiving. Respite comes, however, as the unfortunate Hector meets with regular kindness on his annual migration south in search of warmth and seasonal cheer.
Prompted by a severe diagnosis early in the film, Hector attempts to reconnect with his estranged family as he hops from service station to service station across the UK, hitch-hiking his way steadily southwards. But, having spent over a decade in the social wilderness after a personal tragedy, he's ultimately limited in his success.
Whilst the film is well shot and exhibits strong performances throughout, Hector doesn’t quite convince as it tries to be both an uplifting comedy and a realistic look at the plight of Britain's homeless community.
The character of Hector is a likeable presence and his laboured Christmas-time voyage invites both comic and harrowing encounters. But the jokes do not consistently land and the film does not pack as emotional a punch as one might hope.
Gavin's film shifts in tone with alarming regularity as Hector encounters both harsh brutality and heart-warming charity almost in sequence. The film's ending, however, is well judged and satisfyingly ambiguous, eschewing any attempt to be either overly sentimental or unnecessarily miserable.
Mullan is a reassuring presence in the title role and the audience’s sympathies remain with Hector throughout the film’s 87 minutes, while Gina McKee makes a brief but affecting turn as his sister, Lizzie.
Whilst Hector is unlikely to become a Christmas classic, and suffers from a jarring inability to define exactly what kind of film it is, Hector is nonetheless an engaging and warm portrait of life on the streets.
|What||Hector film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
11 Dec 15 – 11 Jan 16, times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go the film's IMDB page|