Here’s one to put the fear of God in the crumblies at the home. What happens when the money runs out? Yeah, yeah, you might have a ghastly life problem set to tear your personality apart, but what if you’re just poor? Out into the cold world of roads, nasty cafés, wandering and despair you go…
Hector is the tale of a man who ran out on his family some fifteen years or so ago. He travels the country – Glasgow to London – in lorries and cars that, broadly speaking, emerge from the kindness of others. Peter Mullan – as Hector – is given the space (et un smattering de reportage verité) to breathe into the rôle. He is startlingly different from his Rab in Sunshine on Leith, but equally accessible. There’s a calmness to this man as he is gifted moments of kindness (and one mighty cruelty) on his journey to family.
This year is different. Hector is awaiting medical results and an operation and looks to actively reconnect with his siblings. They have grim history and – those that he reaches – have the air of people who ran a thousand miles to get away from the memories. It’s not just Hector who got turfed out by society.
The film is slow, casual even, and not for the young. It stands not so much as a warning to the old, but a character study in how normality can be destroyed and sympathy unexpected.
Mullan is the absolute star, but he is aided in the familial realism of Stephen Tompkinson, all weakness and rage, Gina McKee, all hurt and tension, and Ewan Stewart as the brother. A dose of caricature and much-needed funnies comes from Keith Allen as Jimbo at the Christmas shelter. If there’s human heart to believe in, then Sarah Solemani encapsulates it best: the concerned, realistic manager of Hector’s Christmas shelter. Ultimately, these people make Hector’s life wholly tolerable.
Is that real? In a world where a scarily high percentage of the homeless are drunk, abused or simple victims of their own self-destruction, the answer is no. And this does bother old Jack. But the film is a pleasant watch. And still scary for those who live two meals and a lost asset away from ejection. Out of kindness this season, I decided not to show this to old Clive. His medication is pricey.
Catch Hector on Netflix. He’s not going anywhere fast.