Hector, review: ‘Unsentimental but not harsh’

09:00 14 December 2015

This straight talking story about a life on the margins is full of depth, but might not changes hearts and minds, says Michael Joyce.

Hector (Mullen) is homeless and has a gammy leg. Every Christmas he hitches down from Glasgow to London to spend the winter period in a shelter run by volunteers. This year the festivities are complicated by the knowledge that at the start of the New Year he is going to have an operation, a development that has prompted him to tentatively reach out to his family who he hasn’t been in contact with for a decade and a half.

Gavin’s film is unsentimental but not harsh. This transient life is hard but not entirely bleak, there are moments of contentment and you see how it’s something people could get accustomed to, just another rut a to get stuck in. One of Hector’s problems is a tendency to keep things to himself; however the film’s chief virtue is a willingness to leave things unsaid. It doesn’t whack you with a social message but shows you a life on the margins and trusts you to come to correct conclusions. The film is helped here enormously by Mullan’s presence in the central role. His track record proves that if there are harsh truths to be delivered he’ll give it to you straight, brutally straight (as in Sunset Song last week.)

He gives humanity and depth to people who a lot of us find it easier to deal with in more simplified terms. I’d love to say that the film had a positive effect on me but literally a minute after leaving the screening, when a homeless man inquired after some change, I gave my stock, head-down, mumbled sorrymate response as I sped off into the West End night.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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