Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019)
The irony was that I saw this film whilst being pissed at the sort of company central to this film.
I had cards through my door for two parcels or one parcel was not delivered twice, and neither card had a tracking number on it.
Without this you’re stuffed and have to phone an expensive number.
I took to Twitter, the pointless middle class protest à la mode, but I hope I’d quickly added that the driver presumably didn’t have time to write in a ten digit number.
So this is the latest slice of Ken Loach agit prop, carefully lifted from interviews and conversations with real life examples and largely structured so that you cannot help but be sympathetic.
Ricky and Abby Turner (Kris Hitchen and Debbie Honeywood) lost the chance to buy a house in the Northern Rock collapse and since then he has eked out a series of manual jobs and she has been a peripatetic career around Newcastle. His latest gig (a term which is problematic) is a zero hours contract with a delivery firm, taking all of the risks and none of the benefits. Abby, meanwhile, is only paid for the twenty minute visits and not the travel, which is now longer since they sold the car to pay for a white van. He is not meant to engage with the clients or other drivers, she is not meant to emote for her carees.
This being Loach, you know it is going to go wrong — he will miss slots, he will crash his van, he will lose his handheld recorder… that sort of thing. Some of these do happen. He is struggling to pay off the debt he incurred in trying to be an entrepreneur — one day he might be able to sublet his route, but not yet. And as absentee parents, they see family life disintegrate, their kids playing up in different ways. And these are talented kids, who should have a future.
This is not a comfortable film to watch even if it is never less than watchable. You are waiting for the shoe to drop, even as you get moments of intimate family life. An inexperienced cast — Hitchens had been in an earlier Loach film — turn in credible and creditable performances, and it is hard to feel that the characters have done anything wrong or made a bad choice. These are the decisions you would probably make in the same situation.
Newcastle could easily be made a romantic city, but here it is grey and granite, almost always overcast, an autumnal world. These are real streets, a stone’s throw away from I, Daniel Blake. Whilst branch boss Maloney (Ross Brewster) has a fair few moments of monstrosity, with his lack of sympathy or his corporate euphemisms, the villain is a system that outsources such labour and pays lip service to minimum wages and working hours directives. And the fetish for competition over all else. The precariat will only grow.
You should see this movie — but perhaps don’t buy it from Amazon to watch with a Deliveroo pizza.