Review – Sorry We Missed You
Ken Loach’s latest film is a remarkably powerful exploration of life working in the gig economy, and insecure work in today’s society that should be required viewing
Ken Loach – One of the true great auteurs of recent British cinema is back with his new film ‘Sorry We Missed You’.
The film sees Loach taking the audience into the world of the ‘gig’ economy, and zero hours contracts. Increasingly common in the UK, and the World, in the last 10 years, these represent less stable work, virtually no workers rights, and through the earning system (where people are paid a fee for each ‘thing’ done) – capable of applying huge stresses to people in very insecure situations.
The film follows Ricky, husband and father of two, as he joins a parcel delivery company having become tired of the cold winters working on building sites and dealing with bossy foremen. Lucky for him then, he is assured, that with this work he will be his own boss, in control of his own destiny and be in a far better situation. The truth of course, is the opposite.
We follow Ricky into this life where 14 hour days are common place, delivery windows must be met, illness will require him to pay replacement drivers, and under absolutely no circumstances should parcel be late.
Ricky’s wife, Abby, is a carer for the elderly disabled, and through her zero hours contract under relentless pressure to just move to the next patient. This is only worsened by the need to sell her car, to pay for Ricky’s new delivery van.
All of this is playing out with their two children, ding the situation and consequences, increasingly taking their toll on the family unit as the pressures build and build, which continues unrelentingly through the story.
Loach’s last film in 2016 was ‘I, Daniel Blake’ and his new film ‘Sorry We Missed You’ is a form of follow up or companion in terms of it’s exploration of the real life impacts of situations in society today.
Whereas his previous film followed 2 adults through the world of unemployment benefits, one of whom had very young children, this film examines both the impacts on the adults but also on the younger members of the family as they are at formative ages. That is one of the most trying elements of this film, the obvious impacts that this increasing stress and toll takes on the people within the family.
What too is remarkable in this work, is the power of the performances by the various cast, all of whom are first time performers. As with Loach’s style, they deliver a very genuine feeling performances which further builds this sense that you are watching real life play out.
I’ll stay away from politics here, but this is a powerful tale of the consequences of the sort of work that now exists within our economy. In part, due to the nature of customer expectation and near instantaneous desires that can now be serviced, but also in terms of the lack of regulation of this sort of work.
It is a remarkably powerful story and one that needs to be watched and considered. We all use parcel delivery services in the modern age, and the reality that can sit behind this ‘friction-less’ experience needs to be understood. It’s desire to hold up a mirror to this increasingly common source of work within the modern day economy is a very important story. Loach is a national treasure.
Important Point – I know that I’m lucky to have some international readers of these film reviews. If you haven’t seen ‘I, Daniel Blake’ – I strongly recommend you take the time to watch it.