Ken Loach has spent six decades mastering the art of working class misery; if Sorry We Missed You is anything to go by, his blade hasn’t blunted one iota since 1964. Much like 2016’s superlative I, Daniel Blake, his latest centres on a symptom of contemporary late capitalism in England: specifically, the scam of ‘self-employment.’
Down-on-his-luck Ricky (Kris Hitchen) joins the gig economy as a delivery driver to support his two kids – including delinquent son Seb (Rhys Stone) – and wife, Abbie (Debbie Honeywood). Things start well, but it should come as no surprise to learn that the stresses inherent in his new ‘business’ turn towards tragedy soon enough. While frequently devastating, Sorry We Missed You’s heartfelt social realism has a smack of truth that inoculates it from accusations of exploitation.
Where it stumbles – at least, to the extent that it falls short of I, Daniel Blake – is in its cast. Honeywood, in particular, is a non-professional actor…and it shows. She might read more authentically than Meryl Streep in a wig, she can’t shoulder the heavy emotional load demanded by the screenplay. It’s a minor failing, but one preventing Sorry We Missed You from reaching the heights of Loach’s best films.