Sorry We Missed You - England At Its Grimmest
Sorry We Missed You REVIEW
Director – Ken Loach
Screenplay – Paul Laverty
Cast – Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor
Ken Loach’s latest paints a grim but compelling picture of contemporary England, writes REBEKAH DAVIES.
“If change is to come, it must come from the working class. That’s why telling their story is so important”, said director Ken Loach in a recent Guardian think piece. A man who has dedicated a 60-year career to advocating for the disenfranchised and working poor through the mediums of film and television, Loach has never shied away from difficult subjects.
A common thematic device in his work involves the main protagonist railing against subjugation and humiliation dished out by authoritarian figures while refusing to be stripped of their dignity, and simultaneously holding a familial unit back from the brink of dissolution. No light subject matter.
In Sorry We Missed You, that motif returns. It’s a strikingly grim affair, mirroring the United Kingdom’s unceasingly troubled social and political landscape.
Ricky, played brilliantly by relative newcomer Kris Hitchen, is worn out and looking for a break after losing his job, his family home, and the respect of his son due to a run of ever-increasing bad luck. There’s a rush of hope at the film’s beginning when he lands a job as a courier franchisee, despite having to sell his wife’s car to make it happen. Things start unravelling quickly, however, which makes for uncomfortable viewing throughout.
Ricky’s wife Abbie is the heart of the story, a carer for the elderly who barely sees her children, trudging from home to home, all while supporting her beleaguered husband as best as she can. The suffering is palpable, every character is mired in it, except for Ricky’s supervisor who is the worst kind of tyrant: a fellow working-class man who has transformed into a middle-management sadist in his own attempt to leverage his career.
A feel-good film this is not. If you are at all interested in the human condition then you will find much in Sorry We Missed You to rail against and empathise with. Loach has a singular voice in the world of cinema and his films have been, and remain, an important and controversial statement as opposed to entertainment.
Watch for a key scene where Ricky, Abbie and their kids pile into a van to drive across town and end up in a gleeful sing-along. It’s the very embodiment of a spark that lights up in human beings when faced with adversity. It’s also the fulcrum of the story Ken Loach has spent a lifetime telling.
* Sorry We Missed You hits New Zealand cinema screens on December 26.