Through a wintry landscape of the highways and byways of the United Kingdom, hobbles Hector (Peter Mullan) an ageing ‘gentleman of the road’. For the past fifteen years, he’s led a solitary life, sleeping in doorways and homeless shelters, eating in motorway service areas and down-at-heel cafes. But now he’s suffering from a serious medical condition, Christmas is coming and he’s finally looking to reconnect with the brother and sister he walked away from all those years ago. Perhaps understandably, they’re unwilling to see him…
Jake Gavin’s low budget tale is undeniably bleak and yet, at the same time, strangely life-affirming, concentrating as it does more on the little kindnesses that strangers give to Hector – the cashier in the motorway services area who stands him a free breakfast, the Sihk corner shop owner who rescues him from the attentions of a couple of muggers, and the adorable Sara (Sarah Solemani) who runs the annual Christmas shelter where Hector is a regular visitor. And here is a film that will actually make you think about those helpless characters in shop doorways that so many of us pass by on a daily basis, often without a second thought. This is by no means a polished production. It’s rough around the edges and has no real conclusion to offer, but it’s a film full of heart, a raw and affecting slice of cinema verité.
Peter Mullan is, of course, a gifted actor and he makes Hector a fully fleshed out character. When he finally reveals the reason why he walked away from his family all those years ago, only the staunchest viewers will manage not to shed a tear. Hector is a delightful film, that barely made it to the multiplexes. If you get a chance to see it, big screen or small screen, take it. It’s a charmer.