Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Hector

Reviews - Hector


Reviewed By Stephen Pye

Following on from last week’s "mud fest" it might be hard to believe that a film about homelessness would provide the audience with a far warmer reaction, but this was clearly the case.

The reason possibly lies in the main with one person, the actor Peter Mullan. I liked 'Hector' because I liked Hector, and I liked Hector because I liked Peter Mullan. Mullan's performance was entirely believable and strangely life affirming. The reasons for homelessness are manifold but often revolve around alcohol and drugs, as was demonstrated by Hector's two fellow travelers, but Hector's wanderings had been precipitated by family tragedy, and this was gradually revealed as the film progressed. This gradual revelation was often amusing as well as ultimately disturbing.

This was a low budget debut by first time director Jake Gavin, ably assisted by cinematographer David Raedeker. There were some hauntingly beautiful scenes shot in southern Scotland, forlorn also, which seemed to fit perfectly the life of Hector who had been on the road for over 15 years. There was also deep humanity in the film, amply demonstrated by the Sikh shopkeeper and Sara who ran the London shelter. Indeed for a film about the scourge of homelessness there may have been a little too much by way of kindness and generosity and not enough emphasis on the harsh reality of living rough. The London shelter to which Hector had repaired on many an occasion was positively awash with goodness.

In this sense the film was very different from a Ken Loach social reality offering, as the underlying problems of homelessness and abuse weren't visited. What Ken Loach has described as the "conscious cruelty of the present government" was entirely absent, even tangentially. This was, I suspect, subconsciously deliberate, in that what was being offered to us was a romantic view of Hector's travails and travels.

A strange but for me appropriate comparison, might be that the film was "Wordsworthian" in character, Hector being akin to the "Old Cumberland beggar", who is a catalyst for society to respond, in the main, to his plight, in a manner which brings out the best in human nature.

Still we mustn't read too much in! The film clearly was clearly effecting and effective and very well received by a good audience who then battled through the rain to their homes.

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