Director Ken Loach has dedicated his career to shining a spotlight on social injustice and lifting up working family. I was very much moved by his last effort, 2016’s I, Daniel Blake, which was one of my favourite movies that year. I knew going in that Sorry To Miss You was unlikely to be the cheeriest of views and you know what? I was right.
Ricky (Kris Hitchen) and Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) have been struggling to make ends meet since the economy crashed in 2008. They have two kids, Seb (Rhys Stone), who struggled just to stay in school and is increasingly rebellious, and sweet Liza (Katie Proctor), who senses that her family is in crisis.
Hoping that “self-employment” can solve their financial woes, Ricky gambles the family’s last asset, the family car, to buy a van to make deliveries. But the truth is, Ricky still works for a boss, one who can severely impact his earning potential on any whim, one who takes no risks himself, provides no protection whatsoever. This has become an increasingly common form of employment – no benefits, no sick days, and no access to employment insurance. Welcome to the gig economy, which is slang for labour exploitation.
Loach argues that working people’s struggles are inherently dramatic. “They live life very vividly, and the stakes are very high if you don’t have a lot of money to cushion your life. Also, because they’re the front line of what we came to call the class war. Either through being workers without work, or through being exploited where they were working. And I guess for a political reason, because we felt, and I still think, that if there is to be change, it will come from below. It won’t come from people who have a lot to lose, it will come from people who will have everything to gain.”
Sorry To Miss You is, in fact, quite dramatic. When you’re living paycheque to paycheque, you are teetering dramatically on the edge of disaster and ruin. And guess what? Ricky and Abbie are about to get pushed definitively over it. It doesn’t take much.
So yes. This movie will make you feel awfully guilty about all the one-click ordering and same day delivery you’ve been enjoying (just me?). It’s extremely well-made, with anxiety-inducing performances and a strong message. It is dramatic, filled with angry, shouty parents, hair-tearing over bills, precarious health, stressful shifts, uneasy family dynamics, creepy bosses, literal poop, and always, always a sense of impending doom. The one thing it’s not is a fun watch.