thu 20/06/2019

Cannes 2019: Sorry We Missed You review - essential Loach drama | reviews, news & interviews

Cannes 2019: Sorry We Missed You review - essential Loach drama

Cannes 2019: Sorry We Missed You review - essential Loach drama

New film shows the real cost of zero-hour contracts and fear-inducing big data

From the Tyne to La Croisette: Ken Loach's latest film on Northern working-class lives debuts at Cannes Film Festival

Who would have thought that Ken Loach could make a film more heart-wrenching than I, Daniel Blake? His new feature, co-written with his long-standing collaborator Paul Laverty, is a raw, angry and utterly uncompromising drama, showing that, for all the appeal of the gig-economy, the reality is much grimmer.

Loach insightfully captures British working-class life with his own brand of politically charged righteousness, waking us up to the suffering and exploitation of an invisible workforce. As has been the case with many of his latter-day features, Loach crafts rounded characters, making them more than walking soapboxes for the issues at hand.

Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is a former construction worker, living in Newcastle, who has done every job in the book from landscape gardening to grave digging. His wife, Abbie, (Debbie Honeywood), works arduous hours caring for the infirm and elderly. They have two kids, Seb (Rhys Stone), a teen who's in and out of trouble, and their youngest Liza Jane (Katie Proctor), a sweet, smart kid who is older than her years. They have a hard life, fighting daily against mounting debts.

The central performances smack you like a sucker-punch to the gut

Now, Ricky wants to be his own boss and get on the property ladder, so he decides to take on a job with a franchised delivery company. His pseudo-boss, Maloney (Ross Brewster) tells him can pick his own hours, but there are hefty fines for late deliveries, and his days off cost him £100 a time. Above all, he has to meet his 'precisors' – targets for making priority deliveries. The problem is that they are impossible targets, especially if you want to sleep, eat or see your family – one shortcut he's found is to carry an empty bottle to urinate in. Ricky grafts and grafts, but it’s a Sisyphean task that we know will only end in tragedy.

The central performances smack you like a sucker-punch to the gut. The film never wallows in bleakness, instead it shows the impact these punishing conditions have on family life. But there’s real love and tenderness here, making it all the more heart-breaking.

Sorry We Missed You is a bittersweet drama, told with authenticity and nuance, never exploiting its subject matter or falling into a soap opera mentality. It potently puts a face to the faceless, and asking - are we as a society okay with paying this price for modern convenience?

@JosephDAWalsh

The film never wallows in bleakness, instead it shows the impact these punishing conditions have on family life

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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