Current Issue #487

Film Review:
Sorry We Missed You

English director Ken Loach’s follow-up to the even harsher I, Daniel Blake is another well-intentioned, deeply painful study of the exploited working classes, although his approach isn’t exactly subtle at times.

Drawing from a script by Paul Laverty and acknowledged by this filmmaker as probably his final film (he’s now 83), this again features characters rarely seen in the cinema and will surely hit close to home for those out there who are doing it as hard as these guys.

Kris Hitchen took inspiration from his on-off work as a plumber (in between acting jobs) to play middle-aged Ricky Turner, whose family has been struggling desperately since the GFC in 2008. He’s got not real education and little professional experience, and he’s compelled to become (supposedly) self-employed as a delivery driver, with the stern Maloney (Ross Brewster) continually on his back.

After a pep talk that details how he must basically pay for and be liable for everything, Ricky needs to purchase a van so he must convince wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) to sell her car and catch buses instead for her seriously demanding role as a home care nurse. They’re both already exhausted and hugely in debt, and they’re forced to spend even less time with their teenage son Seb (Rhys Stone) and young daughter Liza Jane (Katie Proctor), and Seb, in particular, doesn’t take their seeming neglect well. When he gets into further trouble at school and Ricky freaks out, insisting that his son needs a good education to get ahead in life, Seb says almost nothing but we can see that he’s thinking: “Why? I’ll still be as miserable as you!!!”

They’re all virtuous people, and we can clearly see that so we don’t really need Loach and Laverty reminding us all the time. Nevertheless, scenes where Abbie goes to enormous trouble to help a series of elderly and infirm types, all portrayed by non-actors, are quietly powerful and distressing anyway.

A UK/French/Belgian co-production made with a little more money than Loach usually manages (a tripod is used for the camera and the rain is kept off the lens, for example), this is a daring choice for a Christmas cinema release and should prove an uncomfortable viewing experience if you, too, are in similarly dire circumstances. That is, if you can afford the tickets.

And, as a final footnote to both this movie and, indeed, Loach’s whole career: isn’t it terrible to realise that this family, if they were real, probably voted for Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party in the recent UK election?

Reviewer Rating
7/10

Sorry We Missed You (MA) is in cinemas from 26 December

DM Bradley

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