Directed by: Ken Loach
Premise: A British family struggles to make ends meet. The father (Kris Hitchen) begins work as a franchised parcel delivery driver believing that it will be a great business opportunity. As they scrape by, the family’s teenage son (Rhys Stone) gets into trouble at school.
What Works: Ken Loach is a British filmmaker whose movies are unambiguously political. Some of Loach’s work focuses on political intrigue in Northern Ireland but the director’s more recent films have shined a light on capitalism and poverty. Sorry We Missed You is about a working class family trying to improve their station in life but only making things worse for themselves. Kris Hitchen and Debbie Honeywood play a married couple who struggle to provide for their family. The husband takes a job as a franchised driver for a parcel delivery service; he is not an employee of the company but rather an independent contractor and he must provide his own transportation and make deliveries on time or else pay fines. What he believes will be a lucrative business opportunity quickly becomes an economic trap. Instead of making money, the family finds itself in a perpetual cycle of debt. Meanwhile, the wife works as an in-home nurse and the couple’s teenage son, played by Rhys Stone, increasingly gets into trouble at school and with the law. Sorry We Missed You is shot in a plain, observational style which works for the film and gives it a gritty reality. The performances are also naturalistic and the actors and the filmmakers create a vivid portrait of life on the economic edge. Although there’s little violence in Sorry We Missed You, the film has a brutal feel and the political point, while unmissable, is integrated into the story organically so that the audience never feels as though they’re being lectured to. Sorry We Missed You dramatizes the exploitation of the working class in what amounts to a pyramid scheme but it also captures the exhaustion of the day to day struggle of living at the poverty line. This takes a toll on the family as the mother and father aren’t around to parent their children, leading the son to act out in ways that escalate the family’s economic strain.
What Doesn’t: The characters of Sorry We Missed You are generally who they initially appear to be. There’s not much depth to anyone and the film reveals little about their internal lives. Given the themes and style of Sorry We Missed You, that kind of character depth is mostly out of the film’s purview but the picture could be criticized for presenting a rather stock working class nuclear family.
DVD extras: Commentary track, featurette, deleted scenes, image gallery, and a trailer.
Bottom Line: Sorry We Missed You is a visceral economic drama. The movie is unsentimental and the starkness of Sorry We Missed You makes it so effective as a drama and as a political statement.
Episode: #813 (August 16, 2020)