Sorry We Missed You, releasing December 26th
At this point in two-time Palme d’Or winner Director Ken Loach’s 55-year-long career, his penchant for social realism is a precisely-tuned instrument, both devastating in conception and incisive in execution. A micro-budget master, Loach uses his limited resources judiciously, instilling his films with a subdued tone that conveys the integrity of a filmmaker in command of their craft.
Loach’s central characters are seldom heroes. Instead, they’re vehicles of social commentary often subjected to the throes of institutional disadvantage and languishing at modern society’s lowest rungs. Sorry We Missed You continues this, burying its broader societal meditations amidst the everyday tribulations of a blue-collar family (with blisteringly-thick Geordie accents to boot). Not unlike 2016’s I, Daniel Blake, despondency is issued in lashings, showing how monotony can be dramatised when heightened by looming financial insecurity, employer exploitation, and a system that doesn’t seem to care.
The story follows Ricky Turner (Kris Hitchen), husband of home care nurse Abbie Turner (Debbie Honeywood) and father of truanting teenager Seb (Rhys Stone) and arrestingly-innocent young daughter Liza (Katie Proctor) as he struggles to find financial stability. Set a decade removed from the global financial crisis, the film exhibits its ever-present ramifications as we learn of Ricky’s spotty employment history over the last few years. Caught in a bind, he accepts a job as a ‘self-employed’ package delivery driver and although the job appears easygoing at face value, some not-so-subtle allusions to fraught labour practices reveal the sinister quotas, narrow timeframes, and long hours beneath the veneer of friendly corporate jargon.
True to Loach’s auteurism, his filmic techniques maintain his unique realism. Through utilizing naturalistic dialogue, dimly-lit intimate settings, and voyeuristic cinematography, the plight of the Turner family remains grounded and heartbreaking. For the family, aspiration is foregone, all they want is to simply live without anxiety and escape the invisible underclass of gig economy workers.
Hitchen’s nuanced performance as Ricky becomes the vessel for the family’s collective empathetic struggle, his tattooed body and wrinkled face showing evidence of strength long since faded and replaced by an emotional weariness for every forlorn compromise and sacrifice that ensues.
Sorry We Missed You is a tale that warns of the human collateral damage brought about in the consumerist age of convenience – timely and relevant it is essential viewing.
Session Times for Sorry We Missed You
This blog post was written by Patrick McKenzie, a staff member at Palace Norton St, film studies student, and aspiring freelance writer.