Hector: Life as a homeless person
by Camillo De Marco
- In competition is the debut work by Jake Gavin, starring an outstanding Peter Mullan as he travels the length of England to seek shelter in London on Christmas Eve
Life is not easy when you’re homeless. Sleeping under nothing but pieces of cardboard, washing yourself in the toilets of service stations, being attacked by thugs. Hector McAdam (Peter Mullan) has been wandering the streets of Scotland for years, and now, as Christmas approaches, he finds himself hitchhiking on the M6 to reach a volunteer organisation in London. It’s a sort of seasonal migration ritual to find a bit of relief from the sleet that lashes at his face and his eternal hunger.
Hector [+see also:
interview: Jake Gavin
film profile], in competition at the 17th European Film Festival of Lecce, is the debut piece by Jake Gavin, who grew up in South Ayrshire, becoming a well-known portrait photographer for GQ, Vogue, and Elle. Hector is also a portrait, that of an uprooted man who lives on memories but with a flickering flame of hope in his heart. Gavin based his film on his personal experience as a volunteer for Crisis at Christmas, a British organisation that helps homeless people at what is probably the most difficult time of the year.
From Glasgow to Liverpool, then down to the capital, sparkling with its Christmas lights, we follow Hector in his poverty-stricken routine that has a specific goal: to free himself from the guilt that forced him to abandon his family 15 years ago without giving saying a word and finally reunite with his siblings. Hector cautiously tries to meet his sister Lizzie, who is married to an arrogant car salesman, and when he gets to London he tries to track down his brother Peter (Ewan Stewart), with the help of a shelter worker (Sarah Solemani).
True to his nature as a good photographer and with the help of David Raedeker (director of photography onI Am Nasrine [+see also:
film profile]and My Brother the Devil [+see also:
film profile]), Jake Gavin makes the orange work jacket worn by Hector stand out against the angry grey and blue of Glasgow and presents the protagonist to the viewer without pathos, accompanying him with the folk slide guitar of Australian musician Emily Barker. The powerful performance delivered by Peter Mullan is, of course, what the entire film hinges on, and the scene of reconciliation with his sister, played by Gena McKee, an actress capable of deploying an unusual pathos in just a few seconds of being on-screen, is truly moving. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Hector was released as a “Christmas film”, and was shown in cinemas from 11 December 2015: a way of stirring people’s consciences through film. A far cry from the dramatic social realism of Ken Loach, Hector, produced by A Product of Malitsky, is a film about relationships between people, without trying to show the more terrifying aspects of life as a homeless person.
(Translated from Italian)