Sorry We Missed You
Debbie Honeywood, Katie Proctor, Kris Hitchen, Rhys Stone, Ross Brewster
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…a searing, brilliant and excoriating film from one of the giants of social realist cinema – a work which demands to be seen.
50 years after his pioneering film Kes shadowed an underprivileged boy facing torment at home and at school, Ken Loach produces another sharp-eyed, unadorned snapshot of the working class, this time turning his lens to the horrors of the ‘gig economy’ of 2019.
Blue-collar parents Ricky (Kris Hitchen) and Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), struggling daily to keep their family afloat, decide to sell their car. This enables Ricky, formerly a building worker, to take a contract job as an independent delivery driver where he is paid per-job, not in wages.
Abbie, also on a contract, is a nurse and home carer to elderly and often neglected patients.
Their son Seb (an excellent Rhys Stone) is perennially getting into fights and being castigated. Abbie’s colleagues seem to call in sick daily, forcing her to fill in, working unpaid overtime, and neglecting her own (in crisis) family. To make matters worse, Ricky is in rising debt due to his employment situation.
As inconceivable as it seems, things only get worse for the family, with each part of their existence pummeled.
With Sorry We Missed You, Loach is making another major statement; a fiery call to arms for the beleaguered working stiff.
In the vein of The Bicycle Thieves and his own singular variety of social realism, Loach crafts a shattering account of a family living off casual zero-hour contracts. (An agreement where an employer has no obligation to provide minimum hours.)
Operating in a documentary-like wheelhouse that Loach has gravitated to throughout his six-decade career, each of the cast turn in affecting, honest performances.
Refined and considered photography from cinematographer Robbie Ryan (I, Daniel Blake, The Meyerowitz Stories) puts viewers inside Ricky’s van. Tight angles and modest lighting are favoured by Ryan and Loach (in their fourth collaboration) to plunge filmgoers into the constant capitulation of the family’s situation.
Whilst the tribulations the characters suffer are wrenching, if there is a fault with the film, it is that it can slide towards overstatement. Ricky’s boss is almost entirely unsympathetic to his colleague. On the phone to his hospitalised worker following a robbery, the supervisor speaks mostly of Ricky’s debts for the stolen goods. In the waiting room, he gives Ricky an arrears total. One wonders if Loach takes this a tad too far.
Regardless, this is a searing, brilliant and excoriating film from one of the giants of social realist cinema – a work which demands to be seen.