Jake Gavin’s debut feature is a standard ‘elderly man sets out in search of forgiveness and redemption’ narrative, but with added British indie grit. Colloquialisms abound, families throw fists at each other, bloody-faced women appear during the night and Keith Allen shows up to mutter some trite nonsense about still waters running deep. The only thing more self-conscious than the misery running through Hector is the limp optimism that occasionally breaches its hackneyed veneer.
For a tale concerning a long-time homeless man still coming to terms with a personal tragedy, there’s little sense of empathy, anger or understanding on the filmmaker’s part. Gavin wants to convey both the beauty and cruelty of all human existence, but has only childlike heavy-handedness and tossed off understatement at his disposal. Despite Peter Mullen’s best efforts, the protagonist is a nondescript cipher to whom a contrived series of events merely happens. The film cannot in good conscience be described as a ‘character study’.
Where Hector succeeds is in its mise-en-scène, with location shoots around dismal garage forecourts yielding some truly evocative results; visually excavating the cracks into which forgotten men and women fall. It’s as if Gavin has painstakingly constructed the perfect stage for his drama, but neglected to populate it with compelling or believable personalities.