Sorry We Missed You

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Sorry We Missed You
"A narrative that hits your emotional solar plexus with the raw power of the performances and the deceptive simplicity of the story." | Photo: © Joss Barratt

Ken Loach has ploughed his own particular furrow over the years. You might think you could become blasé about his insightful, compassionate and moving takes on the struggles of the underdog. Each time, though, he confounds your expectations. In Sorry We Missed You, a companion piece to the Palme d’Or winning I Daniel Blake, he raises the bar yet again with a narrative that hits your emotional solar plexus with the raw power of the performances and the deceptive simplicity of the story.

Here he concentrates on a Newcastle family struggling to keep body, soul and family together with he husband landing a freelance job with a delivery company and his wife working in the care system. The two of them, Ricky (Kris Hitchen) and Abby (Debbie Honeywood), have a teenage son Seb (Rhys Stone), who is struggling at school, and a younger daughter Liza Jane (Katie Proctor), deeply affected by the family’s troubles.

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Ricky seizes the opportunity and the “independence” of the franchise contract offered by the parcel delivery firm as a way of saving the family from its financial woes, but quickly he discovers that the odds are firmly weighted in favour of the company.

To fund the initiative, his wife has to sell the car on which she depends as a care worker, tending to the needs of the elderly and disabled. Even her work conditions are unfair with her travelling time being unpaid and a flat rate for each visit no matter the time she spends with each of the people she looks after.

It’s all beautifully observed by Loach and in the script by Paul Laverty, which documents the struggles and inequalities with a quiet compassion.

The family’s crises begin to mount as Ricky has to divide his time between the needs of his family and the demands of the depot whose boss (Ross Brewster), makes no concessions to domestic urgencies and imposes fines and sanctions.

Hitchen, formerly a self-employed plumber, brings an affecting authenticity to the role of Ricky, a hard-working and spirited individual desperately trying to save his family from going under. Honeywood’s Abby emerges as a warm and caring focus for the family, a trait she exhibits equally in her daily round.

At the age of 82, Loach shows no sign of relinquishing his crusades against the injustices in society and providing a resonant voice for the underdog. Long may he continue to man the barricades and attract the attention of film festival juries.

Reviewed on: 17 May 2019
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A hard-up delivery driver and his wife struggle to get by in modern-day England.

Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Paul Laverty

Starring: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor

Year: 2019

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: UK, France, Belgium


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