Director Ken Loach, building on his reputation for searing views on problems faced by the working class, can break your heart again with his latest, “Sorry We Missed You,” with a poignant screenplay by Paul Laverty.
Set in Newcastle, the incisive drama focuses on Ricky Turner, movingly portrayed by Kris Hitchen, and his wife Abbie, performed in depth by appealing Debbie Honeywood. They have two children. Abbie has a demanding social agency job which requires her to provide aid and comfort to house-bound clients who have trouble fending for themselves. She is a woman with a great heart trying to balance the rigorous demands of her job with her duties as a homemaker.
Every day is one of struggle for Ricky and Abbie. Ricky is given the opportunity to work for a delivery company, and a tough boss, Maloney, played with bluster and a short temper by Ross Brewster, sells him a bill of goods that he can thrive in business for himself if he can get his own truck. The entrepreneur stuff is pure bull, as in reality it is a way of exploiting him without the benefits that could come from his being a regular employee.
How can Ricky get enough to put down a payment on a delivery truck? By selling the car Abbie needs for her work, requiring her to take a bus instead. The delivery time pressure is fierce, and seeing the film makes one think, even though this is set in Newcastle, about what happens here in the U.S. With all of the online orders and the promise for next day deliveries, one can’t help but wonder about the pressure workers in the business on this side of the Atlantic also face.
To compound matters further, the Turners have a teenage son, Seb (Rhys Stone), an often-nasty rebel who gets in trouble and cruelly regards his dad as a failure. His attitude is in contrast to the well-behaved sympathetic younger daughter Liza Jane (Katie Proctor). Thus, apart from the daily economic pressure, Ricky has to work to overcome Seb’s hostility so that they form a closer father-son bond and to educate Seb as to the realities of life and put him on a more constructive path in which he can take advantage of his artistic ability.
As you can see, there are multiple ingredients for powerful drama, and Loach doesn’t let up impressing upon us the problems for this family, emblematic of the large-scale injustices heaped upon the struggling working class. The brilliance and effectiveness of the film are in its not coming across as a polemic, but emerging as a wrenching, believable story. I find this one of the best films so far in 2020. A Zeitgeist Films release in association with Kino Lorber. Reviewed March 5, 2020.