For those cinephiles who worried that Ken Loach’s Palme D’Or Winner ‘I Daniel Blake’ may have been the last film from the veteran British director then his new one “Sorry We Missed You” is a welcome addition to his resume.
Typical for this very socialist-committed man who always wears his heart on his sleeve, this family drama set in the deprived North East area of England is a piece of brutal realism. Loach sees how the failing economy driven by avaricious Bankers and self-rewarding politicians devastates working-class people who are helplessly trapped in a downward spiral.
This is the story of one family’s valiant struggle to survive day to day against all odds. Ricky Turner (Kris Hitchen) is fed up with the stream of bad-paying dead end jobs that he decides to become a freelance contractor driver for a busy parcel delivery service. He will need to buy his own van which will entail selling his wife Abby’s car (Debbie Honeywood) which as a home care-iver she needs to travel to all her clients home. She reluctantly agrees even though it now means she will be reliant on a network of buses to get around town, and will lengthen her very long working day.
They have two children. Seb (Rhys Stone) a bored and troubled teen who uses his parents constant absence to get involved with a gang of graffiti street artists. His younger sibling Lisa Jane (Katie Proctor) is academically bright but is a sensitive child that takes all the daily dramas in the household very personally.
In theory Ricky has the opportunity of earning £120 per day but only if he can cope with the extremely high pressure and the bullying tactics of the Warehouse Manager. As a freelancer he has no safety net and if he fails to meet delivery schedules and workloads he is mercilessly fined by the Company.
Both parents work 14/15 hour days just in order to stay afloat, Their hope is one day to be able to move out of their rented house and into their own home which they had lost in the last recession. There is therefore no margin for error, so when Seb gets into serious trouble at school, and Abby’s elderly clients start demanding even more help and attention, the whole family is near breaking point.
Neither of the parents can escape a culture where they are both being exploited : Ricky by a ruthless money-grabbing company and Abby by an underfunded welfare services . It all comes to a head when Ricky is badly beaten up by a gang of thieves and is then punished by his company for both all the losses and also as he fails to turn up for work
There is one singular high moment when Abbie gets on the phone tio Ricky’s boss and literally explodes . It makes her (and us) feel better, but we know that sadly they are past the point of no-return and the future looks as bleak as ever.
Sorry We Missed You may not be of the same calibre as I Daniel Blake but it is nevertheless a very compelling story, written by Loach’s long time collaborator Paul Laverty, that he ensures will get right under your skin. It may actually be a piece of fiction but the sad reality is that it could easily be a documentary. Loach possesses these wonderful powers of observation, it’s such a crime that the politicians and those in power fail to share it.
P.S. For those of you who may struggle with all their Newcastle accents, you should know that Zeitgeist Films have added subtitles