Sorry We Missed You
After providing a living for his family by working every type of job requiring physical labor imaginable, Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is ready to be his own boss, something the PDF package delivery company promises with its franchising model. But after cajoling his home care worker wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) into selling her car for the down payment on a van, Ricky soon realizes he’s more under the thumb of corporate interests than ever and that just one unexpected event will push his entire family to the very edge in “Sorry We Missed You.”
Laura's Review: A-
Director Ken Loach ("Riff-Raff"), along with his "I, Daniel Blake" screenwriter Paul Laverty, has been highlighting the injustices dealt the common man for decades. His last moving, humanistic film about a senior construction worker disabled by a heart attack helping out a young single mother on welfare won the Cannes Palme d’Or. His latest, about the unbearable stress placed on a young family by uncaring statistic watchers, arrives as a global pandemic is further revealing the inequities of the gig economy.
At PDF, Ricky impresses Maloney (Ross Brewster) with his pride in never having been on the dole and his propensity for straight talking as Maloney reels off his spiel about not ‘working for us’ but ‘with us’ and other bromides. Ricky’s given a scanner, told that his life now depends on it, that if he loses it he is responsible for replacing it and that he needs to plan ahead when loading packages. Maloney strides around his depot demanding people move faster as a coworker advises Ricky keep an empty plastic bottle around in order to relieve himself. Soon Ricky’s learning that his scanner’s GPS isn’t always accurate, that meter maids will slow him down and that the public can be very difficult to deal with. And that’s just on his first day.
Meanwhile we see Abbie, a woman whose mantra is that she treat her elderly clients ‘like they were her own mum,’ struggle to keep up with her appointments traveling by bus. The saintly woman is patience personified as she deals with a terrified Alzheimer’s patient, temper tantrums and smeared fecal matter. We learn she is paid by the visit, no matter that clients who are beyond her type of care may take many additional hours to deal with. Abbie’s typical day now begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m.
This couple has two children, a sweet little girl, Liza Jae (Katie Proctor), and Seb (Rhys Stone), a rebellious teenager whose graffiti art group has frequent run-ins with the law. When Seb’s issues begin to cause his parents to not only lose work but in Ricky’s case pay steep fines for the privilege, Abbie watches in horror as her stressed and exhausted husband begins to turn into her abusive father. Even the sweet respite of a day spent with Liza helping deliver his packages is ruined for Ricky when Maloney informs him he cannot take his own daughter in his own van because a customer has complained.
As usual, Loach eases his characters’ burdens with the love and support they show each other within the trenches, but “Sorry We Missed You” is one of his bleakest – while adult problems cause family friction, they eventually rally around each other yet their situation is never improved.
The filmmaker has assembled a fine cast, Hitchen making the frustrations of his matey, down-to-earth Ricky palpable, Honeywood’s compassion a beacon of hope, the obstacles she endures enough to bring tears. Stone paints the sullen unknowability of teenaged resentment while young Proctor is a ray of light, handling one distressing scene like a little pro. Brewster, whose Maloney calls himself the ‘Patron Saint of Nasty Bastards,’ is all too believable. We meet every one of Abbie’s seven regular clients and each makes an impression.
“Sorry We Missed You” (the title refers to the slips left by deliverymen) may initially seem heavy-handed, its protagonist dealt one bad card after another, but upon reflection one can see that Loach and Laverty are illustrating just what a house of cards many live in in an economy that grinds down the working man to build corporate profit.
Robin's Review: B+
Ricky (Kris Hitchen) has labored hard, for others, his entire life. He finally has a chance to be his own man and buys into a delivery service franchise. However, he does not tell his health caregiver wife, Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), of his plans, which include selling her precious little car. He tells her that it is for a better, more prosperous life – or is it? - In “Sorry We Missed You.”
Most movies are an escape mechanism, something that takes you away from the grind of our day-to-day lives and put us in a better world. But, this is a Ken Loach film and his works do not put you, often, into a kinder place.
You really feel sympathy for this put upon couple and can understand Ricky’s desire, after many years of struggle and toiling for others, to be his own boss. But, his haste is based on desperation, leading him, Abby and their two kids, Sebastian (Rhys Stone) and Liza Jae (Katie Proctor), into a steady downward spiral of mounting debt, pressure from his boss (turns out, Ricky is not his own man) and increasing problems with rebellious teenaged Seb.
The story, by Paul Laverty, is a slice of blue-collar life in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK and it is a hard life for a couple still trying to get out from under the fiscal burden caused in the Great Recession. You really understand Ricky’s frustration and hurt pride as every hope and grand plan he has are dashed. Abbie, on the other hand, is the glue that holds her family together, despite her ever-increasing burdens; and the kids, too, feel genuine.
I remember my first Ken Loach film (or, think it was my first) from backing 1991 with “Riff-Raff,” about the plight of London’s poor working class. I recall that film because, though in English, Loach very kindly provided subtitles for the near incomprehensible dialog. The director uses subtitles again, in “Sorry We Missed You,” and, again, I thank him.
“Sorry We Missed You” is not the kind of film that, when over, you feel good about, even hopeful. It is, though, an honest and tough story of a working class family trying to get by in a world that is against them.
Kino Lorber has made this film available to stream at the virtual cinemas listed at the bottom of this page