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United Kingdom 2019
Directed by
Ken Loach
101 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Sorry We Missed You

Since his 1967 directorial debut, Poor Cow, Ken Loach has carved out an exemplary career as a social realist film-maker focussing on the struggles of British working class people. Sorry We Missed You, set in modern day Newcastle in the North of England is one of his most uncompromising efforts, so unrelenting in its depiction of one family’s story as at times to seem to be exaggerated yet at the same time feeling so real (well maybe the three legged dog was taking things a little too far) as to be heart-breaking.  

Ricky (Kris Hitchen) sinks himself into debt as a franchisee as a parcels courier in the hope of buying a house for his wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), a home care nurse, and teenage kids Seb (Rhys Stone) and Lisa Jane (Katie Proctor).

From the get-go when we see slightly desperate Ricky being interviewed by a would-be alpha male type, Maloney (Ross Brewster), who encourages him to take advantage of the virtues of "self-employment" we know that things are not going to turn out well. That is putting it mildly. Ricky goes home and convinces his wife to sell her car so that he can pay the deposit on a new van. From that point we follow Ricky’s downward spiral as he scrambles to meet Maloney’s bully-boy expectations, suffers obnoxious customers and zealous parking attendants, his wife is forced to use public transport to see her demented, incontinent patients, his son gets into trouble with the police and his dreams of independence and financial security turn to dust. The only relief he gets is when he takes his daughter out for the day on a run but even this is used against him.

Loach and his regular screenwriter, Paul Laverty, create both a damning reflection of the culturally-institutionalized, dog-eat-dog brutality of British society in its modern form of the so called sub-contracting "gig economy" and a touching portrait of an ordinary family trying to survive in it. The performances are outstanding (both the young actors are making their first screen appearances) , the sadness overwhelming.  In this respect some may question the film’s ending but it is probably the right one. More downbeat and we would have been barely able to bear it. More upbeat and it would have threatened the impact of his potent message.

Available from: Icon Movies




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