Film Review: HECTOR (Jake Gavin, 2015) ★★★

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Hector McAdam (Peter Mullan) is making his way from Scotland to London for his annual visit to the Christmas homeless shelter. Having disappeared 17 years ago, leaving his family behind, he decides to stop off in Newcastle and reconnect with his estranged family and his reasons for leaving soon come to light. 

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As Hector makes his long journey across the United Kingdom, as an aging homeless man, he faces cruelty and heartache but is also shown tremendous kindness and friendship also through a gritty leans. Photographer-turned-writer-director, Jake Gavin, brings maturity and heart to his debut feature about a community seemingly ignored by society and the world of film. Hector makes this journey every year yet, this time, he attempts to reconnect with family and we uncover what led to his current situation. 

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The narrative takes place in the run-up to Christmas, with the wildness of the Scottish weather enhancing the sense of hardship. Opening to a concrete service station, we’re introduced to our protagonist, an old homeless man with fragility - he walks with a limp yet he is in good spirits. Hector is clearly a piece of British social realism yet it does avoid the over the top miserabalism, featuring some scenes which are both heart-warming. Hector is, on some level, in control of his situation. Whilst he may not have a home, he has thick skin and he is collecting a regular pension which provides the basics for living – food and water, the means to clean himself and perhaps the odd can of beer and some biscuits. He also has fellow itinerants who lack these luxuries, however; a teenager Hazel (Natalie Gavin) and old pal Dougie (Laurie Ventry) and his pet dog. 

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Hector's plan to travel to a homeless hostel in London for some Christmas festiveness with his pals is interrupted by an undisclosed hospital appointment that prompts him to take tentative steps to find his family. What follows is a physical and mental journey and more importantly, a character study.  Gavin presents the people Hector encounters along the way, including a drunk named Jimbo (Keith Allen), in a naturalistic but generally positive light although the narrative also exposes the harsh realities of their situation. This is made all the more effective by what Gavin chooses not to say, forcing us to make our own speculations which are all the more powerful and heartbreaking. 

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While the characters are no saints, there is a humanity to their actions that feels so much more realistic. Sarah Solemani also stars as Sara, the hostel manager who helps Hector to locate his family and connects with him on a higher level. Whilst she has a relatively small part, her character brings a lot of warm to the story. Ultimately all the acting is very believable although Keith Allen’s character seems to bring almost nothing to the film. An important role is that of Hazel who represents all the young women on the streets. It is suggested that she suffered abuse which resulted in her homelessness and, being a young girl, she is prey to far more dangers and it is clear that Gavin uses her as an outlet to voice this, even if not directly referenced. 

Overall, Hector is a refreshing and realistic piece of social realism that is likely to win over audiences beyond the art-house niche. It is as endearing as it is inspiring yet it does lack some rhythm. It seems that it is less about a man trying to find his family and more about his situation and raising awareness – right in time for Christmas. Hector gets 3 out of 4 stars and is released in cinemas today (11th December 2015). Thanks to Organic Marketing for allowing me to attend the exclusive screening of this - I'm very pleased to have seen it despite my initial doubts toward social realism. This left me with genuine moments of teary eyes and I hope more people get a chance to see it.

Have you seen Hector? What was the last film that made you feel inspired or raised your awareness? As always, I love reading your comments so please do leave them below. Still in Germany at the moment but I can't wait to share my photos with you all on my return.

Until next time movie lovers,


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10 comments:

  1. sounds like a great emotional movie! I havent seen this yet, no. Have fun in Germany beauty! And if you fancy a new handbag, check out my Giveaway :)
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥ (Handbag 24 hours GIVEAWAY!)

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    1. Thanks Hun, it's been amazing so far! It's a sad but uplifting Christmas film :) xx

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  2. I hope you're having a wonderful time in Berlin, Sophie :) I think I'll have to wait some time before I can see this film. The plot you described reminds me of Wim Wenders's Paris, Texas. The most recent film where I felt inspired was The Martian which shows the human will to survive against all sorts of setbacks and governments that actually cooperate with eachother to do the right thing. An older film I found inspiring is Kurosawa's Red Beard where there is a subplot of an emotionally traumatized little girl.

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    1. Thank you! It's been amazing so far, I don't want to leave haha. Good choices - yeah I'm not sure if this will get much of a release in the US as it's not getting much of one here as it's an independent film. Worth a watch though :)

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  3. This sounds really good! I will have to check this out! Hope you are having a nice time hun, can't wait to see the photos!
    Fix Me In Forty Five - A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog
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    xxx

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    1. Yeah its really moving in some scenes but it's got Christmas cheer :) Yay! I have literally taken about 300 photos from Berlin x

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  4. Is this showing in UK cinemas? This seems like such a cute film :)

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    1. yup - it's showing in the UK only at selected cinemas I believe :) Let me know what you think if you get a chance to check it out

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  5. This film sounds really sad :( I like that they've made a film about the homeless though to make people think twice about ignoring them. Great review sweets x

    Aimee x

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    1. Yeah it was pretty sad but also really inspiring and moving! It definitely made me think more about how we speak to homeless people on the street. Worth a watch :) x

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