Sorry We Missed You
Ken Loach takes on the gig economy in this unapologetic new addition to his oeuvre of outrage
Sorry We Missed You is the latest incendiary from Ken Loach, a filmmaker who refuses to let up after more than half a century chronicling the injustices heaped upon society’s dispossessed. Here, his ire turns again to unfair employment practices, a familiar theme given a botched, modern-day facelift in the form of zero-hours contracts and the gig economy.
The Turners are struggling to eke out an existence. Ricky is the family’s crestfallen patriarch. Abbie is a carer, both domestic and professional. When Ricky takes a freelance courier gig, their decade-long losing streak hits a new low: missed delivery targets mean mounting debts, and unpredictable working patterns exacerbate tensions at home.
In less capable hands, Sorry We Missed You would be run of the mill, through-the-wringer stuff. But its sermonising is cloaked in an involving human story and there are shafts of humour that pierce the overriding gloom. Kris Hitchen and Debbie Honeywood contribute very strong lead performances too, grafting believable, world-weary flesh onto the bones of characters who could otherwise be crude cyphers of hardship.
Things do creak at points. Take Ricky’s boss, Maloney: a bullying brick shithouse clad in an indestructible layer of corporate indifference. His speechifying is too on the nose, his villainy too arch. He’s a bogeyman; a useful idiot obscuring a wider, systemic evil.
These simplifications present a dilemma: do we criticise the film or its political targets? Loach’s best work transcends such concerns, and this isn’t quite that. But it’s an affecting effort that proves the director is still a necessary force in contemporary agenda-setting.
Policy and public opinion are lagging behind reality. For the government, people like Ricky are data points on the road to record employment. For everyone else, they’re the anonymous agents of convenience. Sorry We Missed You is a special delivery from them to us all. We should listen.