A companion piece to Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake, which condemned the bureaucracy of Britain’s broken benefits system, Sorry We Missed You is Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty’s righteous indictment of the gig economy which leaves working-class families overworked and underpaid.
Loach has again unearthed a cast of impressive unknowns, who disappear into their roles so completely it’s hard to tell where their performances end. Dad Ricky (Kris Hitchens) is a former construction worker who takes a job delivering parcels. Rather than become an employee, he’s ‘onboarded’ with no benefits and must adhere to strict targets or face severe penalties. Mum Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), meanwhile, faces her own injustice: as a careworker on a zero-hours contract she’s paid for her time with her patients, but not for the lengthy journeys to and from appointments. Add to this rebellious son Seb (Rhys Stone), and the result is a family barely holding it together.
Loach and Laverty pull no punches in their depiction of a system rigged for the benefit of those at the top of the food chain. Gradually tightening the screws on Ricky and Abbie, this is an unvarnished snapshot of the unsustainable expectations placed on the contemporary working class. It’s enraging to watch; a few moments of welcome, uplifting humour offer the only relief from the suffocating, pressure-cooker mood.
Some of the family’s setbacks – particularly those involving errant son Seb – veer into melodrama, with one too many dinner-table shouting matches. But otherwise this is another powerful rallying cry for the oppressed from one of British cinema’s most important voices.