Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation.
Ken Loach has always been an incendiary filmmaker and now in his 80s, the fire in his belly has shown no signs of diminishing as he continues to take aim at aspects of British politics and society. Following up arguably his finest film in years, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, comes another politically charged film that looks at how modern working practices and regulations can leave a hard working family in a perilous position. In ‘Sorry We Missed You’, that family are the Turner’s, a family of 4 who live in Newcastle, renting their small flat and struggling to make ends meet whilst working long hours in demanding jobs. When an opportunity arises for father Ricky (Kris Hitchen) to become a self employed delivery driver things start to be looking up, until the true reality of this type of work starts to hit home.
Like most Loach films there’s not much subtlety here, but that lack of subtlety is effective in driving home the points he’s trying to make. The narrative is at its strongest when it’s exploring the cause and effect of Ricky and his wife Abby (Debbie Honeywood) working long hours, and their son Seb (Rhys Stone) starting to go off the rails, skipping school and stealing. It makes a strong point that the long hours and parents not being about can lead to problems for their children, creating a cycle of poverty and limited opportunities that’s hard to counter. In terms of Ricky’s job itself, it’s sold to him as a way to have freedom, to be your own boss, and to start to make a lot of money if you work hard. The reality is very different – the hours are long, the work is tough and any mistakes or missed days are penalised. As there’s no employment contract, there’s no holiday allowance, no sick pay and your wage is entirely reliant on how long you work, and Ricky soon realises the freedom’s offered with this new career are not really freedom’s after all.
Like many of his previous films, Loach uses relatively unknown actors in the main roles and there’s a real authenticity to the performances that I don’t believe you’d get from seasoned performers. I felt ‘Sorry We Missed You’ was powerful in its depiction of a family stuck in circumstances with no obvious way to change their fortune for the better, and this is another strong film about life in modern Britain from Ken Loach.
Directed By: Ken Loach
Starring: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone and Katie Proctor