I was privileged to be at the premiere of this great movie at the Edinburgh International Film Festival tonight as guest of the co-producer, Simon Mallinson.
It’s a low budget tale with a big human story at its heart that is carried off with consumate ease by its eponymous lead, Peter Mullan.
Mullan has slowly but surely risen up the star league over many, many years, but few parts can have given him such screen time, such total empathy with the viewer and such character.
Most people associate Mullan with aggressive, gritty, hard Scottish character parts but this, although gritty and Scottish, is the complete antithesis of that. He plays a long term homeless man that still cares about his appearance and his ability to integrate into his own form of society – his “real family” as he calls it.
It opens on Hector carefully going through his morning ablutions, only for the camera shot to widen and reveal that these are taking part in the public toilet of a northern Scottish shopping centre. Such is the lot of a homeless person that cares about how they look.
It’s a road movie of sorts in that it follows the endless winter migrations of Mullen’s character, Hector, North and South across the UK, sleeping in the outdoors, public toilets, motorway service station car parks, shopping centres but more positively in a London Christmas homeless shelter where he has, over the years, become something of a cause celebre.
The tedium of his life is beautifully realised in the succession of lifts he gets from kind hearted (and possibly lonely) lorry and van drivers and the slow pace emphasises the sheer monotony of a life with no real purpopse.
And his situation, already bleak is heightened by the fact that every step he takes is contorted by some form of unexplained leg pain. Hector’s life is clearly far from a picnic.
But, despite this, what lies at the movie’s core is the milk of human kindness.
Each lift acquired, each gesture of charity (a free cup of tea, a shared meal, the tenderness of the London homeless centre’s manager, played beautifully by Sarah Solemani) adds weight to the fact that homeless people are more often than not castigated for their situation, assumed to be beggars, spongers, theives.
But, the truth is, each has a story, a reason, for their situation. And it’s this kindness that Hector elicits, dramatised in tiny vignettes again and again, that marks this movie out from the usual “it’s grim up north” docudrama that dwells constantly on the misery of life where one is cast aside from society.
It would be wrong to explain why Hector finds himself in his own situation, and for so long, so I won’t spoil it. It sort of doesn’t matter, but we are curious. What does matter is how Mullan crafts his perfectly rendered character into a lovable, sympathetic man and the absolute epitome of what makes people good.
To that end director and writer (based on a true story) Jake Gavin is to be congratulated on not only what is a decisive and confident debut but also a great human love story that potentially offers more to come.
Hector could come back, that’s for sure.
Your generosity continues almost unabated.
My target of £500 was breached this afternoon and we now stand at £523.56 which ain’t bad going in 48 hours.
But the new target of £1,000 now looks like quite a long way away, so please spread the word and if you haven’t yet donated your £10 to have a pop and guess when gibberish will cross the million viewer Rubicon then please have a go here.
Must watch. Genius. Giving truly can be glorious.
I will be performing on Saturday night at 7.30 in the Forth Adults Theatre Christmas fundraising show which promises to be a right good Christmas heart warmer. It’s at Holy Cross Church Hall in Bangholm Loan, but if you want tickets best make contact before the night as it will sell out.
My fellow uber-talents will be singing a range of Christmas crackers, but singing solo scares me too much so, perhaps appropriately I’ve decided to scare the audience in a different way. So I shall be debuting a freaky ghost story that is a real chiller.
I’m shitting myself just thinking about it.
Well, it’s a toss up between Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and this absolute blinder by Low.
Many of you will be aware of the unique, and I mean unique, event that is “The Loony Dook”.
Here’s a picture of it from the past.
First off, it is probably the least PC event held this, or any other, year and will no doubt at some point in the future be renamed “The not overly sensible swim.”
And that would be fine if that was what it was called, because that is what it is.
It is the coming together of several hundred people, on the morning of January 1st , at 11.30 am to swim in the River Forth at South Queensferry.
For the record, here is the weather forecast for the next five days to show you just what we are letting ourselves in for.
Of course, it might get warmer, it might get cooler. One thing is for sure. It ain’t gonna be Boca Raton!
And where do you, dear reader, come in?
The answer is simple.
My dear mate Terry Bryant had a nasty dust with cancer for a great deal of this year and decided he should bring some of his mates to their aid in terms of fundraising to support the respite centre, The Maggie’s Centres, who came to his aid when he needed them.
So, I am to bare my chest, my arse and my fortitude to the freezing Scottish winter so that you lot can have a laugh at my expense and Terry can help out Maggies.
Do me a favour.
If you’ve enjoyed even a moment of my ridiculous waffling on gibberish this year, post a comment committing to sponsor me in my moment of madness; sorry, non-conformism.
If not, have a happy Christmas all the same.
PS If, you’r reading this on your return to work after the New Year and you wished you could have helped. It’s not too late. I’ll be posting the evidence of my participation on this blog so you can be sure I delivered and I’ll happily accept sponsorship post event!.
Sorry folks I’ve been busy partying.
Last Friday I played poker so went with my poker face on.
Last week I was at the Edinburgh Leisure bash. I copied Pete’s “sticking beer caps on your head” trick.
But he’s much better at it.
And he’s even better at the Spock trick…
Tuesday was the SEX Party (Self Employed Xmas). We got the papparazi along.
Last night was 60 Watt’s do.
I work with these people!
But I was still thinking Hard.
Is it any wonder I’m cream crackered?