Hector (2015 film)
|Directed by||Jake Gavin|
|Written by||Jake Gavin|
|Music by||Emily Barker|
|Edited by||Guy Bensley|
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Hector McAdam is a warm-hearted, well-natured homeless man with a tragic story behind him. This story unveils itself throughout the course of the film. Hector has hitchhiked to Glasgow for a hospital appointment. The details of what is wrong with Hector are never revealed, and when asked by his friends, he only tells them he is having ‘a wee operation’. Upon hearing his diagnosis, he quickly leaves the hospital. As he was leaving, he is recognised by someone he knew in the past, who comments he hasn’t seen him in years. The man tells him that his brother Peter tried to find him for several months after he disappeared.
Hector is attacked later that day, by a gang of youths who wanted his bag. They are thwarted by a shopkeeper, who tends his wounds and repairs his bag. Asked if he wants an alcoholic drink, Hector declines, saying he doesn’t drink. His bag contains memories of years gone by, which hold deep sentimental value to him.
Hector travels south, and tries to track down his sister Lizzie in Newcastle. He eventually finds Derek, her sister’s husband. A furious Derek berates Hector for coming back after so many years. After phoning Hector’s sister to tell her he was in town, Derek drives Hector out of Newcastle, offering him the bus or train station. Derek tries to give Hector money but Hector refuses. He tells Derek he’s heading down to London to spend Christmas with friends in a shelter. He asks if his brother Peter is still in London, and whether he has his number. Derek says no, and warns Hector not to come back.
Hector arrives at a service station and meets up with fellow homeless friends Dougie (who has a dog called Braveheart) and Hazel. Dougie tells Hector to spend the night in the disabled toilet in the services, as it was a cold night and he looked unwell. Hector accepts and when he returns to them the following morning, he finds that Dougie has died. Hazel runs away, leaving Hector to talk to the police. Braveheart is taken to the local dog pound.
Hector arrives in Liverpool and spends the night in a church. The vicar gives him a voucher to take to a backstreet café. He receives a free breakfast but when he spills his tea and goes to the counter for a towel, the proprietor accuses him of stealing and throws him out, only to realise what Hector was really doing afterwards.
Hector gets the bus to London, but by the time he reaches the shelter, he is told that there are no beds. Sara, a volunteer caretaker recognises Hector and finds him a bed. Hector asks Sara the next day if she can help him trace his brother Peter, using the internet.
That night, Hazel tries to get into the Shelter. Hector is called by Sara to help calm her down. Sara finds Hazel a bed at a woman's shelter and organises transport.
Peter tracks down Hector at the shelter, and tells him he has travelled by bike to numerous shelters in the area to track him down, following a phone call from his sister. They go out for lunch. Peter tries to find out why Hector upped sticks and left his life behind. Peter jokes that Hector has become a ‘rent pensioner’ to make ends meet. Hector says that he was helped by a social worker to get his benefits and pension set up and he lives on that, whilst travelling through the UK. When he sees Sara back at the shelter later, he tells her he never felt out with Peter, but he ‘fell out with life’.
The next day, Hector goes out for a walk but feels unwell and heads back to the shelter. He sees a friend, Jimbo who shows him a page 3 tabloid photo of a young girl. Hector excuses himself and goes upstairs to lie down. Sara goes to check on him and Hector reveals that his wife and daughter were killed on this day many years ago by a drunk driver. This was what caused him to leave his home and live off the grid. He revealed he was sectioned following their death and left his old life behind following a stint in a halfway house.
Hector enjoys his Christmas dinner with friends. Jimbo misses dinner but returns drunk and starts a food fight in the dining room, which earns him an eviction.
Peter returns to the shelter and takes him to a car park, where their sister Lizzie and brother-in-law Derek are waiting. Hector tells Lizzie he blamed himself for his wife’s and daughter’s deaths as they had left after a row. Had the row not happened, they wouldn’t have left their flat and would still be alive. As they are talking, Peter and Derek start fighting, and Hector gets hit whilst trying to intervene.
The shelter starts to empty, and Sara says goodbye to Hector and hopes to see him again next year. He tells Sara that he’s going to stay with his sister for a while, and the plan is to do a family Christmas next year. Sara gives Hector some new footwear, and tells him to look after himself. Hector hitch-hikes back up north, presumably for his operation.
In The Observer, Mark Kermode praised the film as a "surprisingly warm and rewardingly aware tale of homelessness at Christmas" and rated it four out of five stars. In The Guardian, Henry Barnes compared the film critically to the work of Ken Loach and suggested the film painted an unduly positive picture of homelessness.
- Mark Kermode. "Hector review - a warm tale of homelessness at Christmas". The Guardian.
- Henry Barnes. "Hector review – social realism unrelated to the real world". The Guardian.