Peter Mullan at his best in a film of social concern that owes something to the work of the Dardenne brothers and of Agnès Varda.


It requires skill to make a drama about homeless wanderers that avoids falling into the category of films that are well meant but over-manipulative and ultimately depressing. Aided by the casting of Peter Mullan in the title role, writer/director Jake Gavin proves to be the man to carry it off. He refrains from over-dramatising and in the character of Hector he has a figure who claims our sympathy all the more readily because we do not feel that he is being softened up in the writing to achieve that end.


We first meet Hector in Scotland where he is in the company of two other companions of the road, Dougie and Hazel. These two head south and Hector follows on after visiting a hospital in Glasgow for tests. Hector’s aim is to reach London before Christmas because for some years he has spent that season in a shelter there, one that specifically supports the homeless at this time of year. What is different now is that, breaking the habit of years, he is seeking contact with members of his family: there is a brother-in-law in Newcastle (Stephen Tompkinson) who discourages him from seeing his sister and, once he reaches London, he wants to find his brother (Ewan Stewart). We can guess that this change of heart is linked to fears that the operation booked for the new year back in Glasgow may be one from which he will not recover.



Reflections on a life: Peter Mullan


Incidents on the way south together with developments in London keep the story moving and it never falls into sentimentality. In time we will discover what it was that made Hector turn his back on his family and on normal domestic existence and, while that turns Hector into a personal drama, it carries the film forward without detracting from the film’s main purpose which is to draw our attention to those who wander up and down the country and need the kind of shelter that we see functioning here. Hector avoids so many of the traps that go with films of this kind and comes across as a work of genuine concern taking a persuasive look at one of the urgent social problems in modern-day Britain. 


Cast: Peter Mullan, Sarah Solemani, Natalie Gavin, Keith Allen, Stephen Tompkinson, Gina McKee, Ewan Stewart.


Dir and Screenplay Jake Gavin, Pro Stephen Malt, Ph David Raedeker, Pro Des Byron Broadbent, Ed Guy Bensley, Music Emily Barker, Costumes Denise Coombes.

Urban Distribution International/Aimimage Productions/Malitsky production etc.-Miracle Communications Ltd.

87 mins. UK/France. 2015. Rel: 11 December 2015. Cert. 15.