Film Review: Hector

In the cinema at Plymouth Arts Centre from 19 – 25 Feb.

The story of Hector is one that isn’t actually too unfamiliar. In Plymouth alone there are 250 beds available for single, homeless people at any one time. These are always full. Although we do not know all of these people’s stories – it’s highly possible that many of them have travelled from service station to service station, always looking for their next meal and a place to shower.

This week I volunteered for Plymouth’s Soup Kitchen. I met a young couple who had been living in a tent for the last eight months during the bleak winter. They had travelled around the country, finding enough money to pay for a train fare and some food for their beloved dog, Bear.

Unfortunately, although Hector’s story is the plot to a film – it’s a story that happens even today. What this film sets to do is highlight the rising number of homeless, highlight how easy it is for all of us to become one of those statistics that travel the road, and highlight that everyone has a story – whether they live in a house, or call the road their home.

Hector is a story about homelessness – but it’s also a story about family, journey’s and hope. And Peter Mullan is the perfect image of hope.

This often grumpy and also light-hearted homeless man, Hector, travels across the UK, hitching lifts with truck drivers, in the search of his sister and family. What will happen when and if he meets them he doesn’t know – but he is willing to find out.

On his journey he encounters reject, death, friendship, laughter and pain. Throughout the film Hector struggles with problems to his leg – hobbling along dual carriageways and hopping into trucks.

At times the audience are open to the harsh reality of the life as a homeless person – hiding under cardboard, walking miles for a pack of biscuits and losing their closest friends. The death of one of Hector’s companions isn’t sensationalised- it’s not hyped up for the cinema but instead is told in a very matter-of-fact way. Highlighting to the audience this is something that people on the street have to deal with more than once.

Tears fell from my eyes when Hazel arrives at the shelter beaten and bruised, saying she is not yet 21. Unfortunately this is something not so unfamiliar in Plymouth. Young couples and individuals wait for soup almost every day of the week – a statistic on a list in an office somewhere.

Hector might portray the story of someone without a home but scenes where he is seen speeding down a hill on a bike with his brother remind the audience that at the end of the day – we’re all the same – we all have a story to tell. And in fact, Hector’s is more heart-breaking than many.

Emily Smith 

Twitter: @EmzJ_Smith

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