The latest collaboration between writer Paul Laverty and director Ken Loach tells the story of a Newcastle family struggling to stay off the streets.
The film opens with a man, the dad, at an interview; the interview is for a job as a delivery driver for a huge chain company. Although the specific company is unspecified, many will recognise aspects of the job as being modelled on the likes of Amazon. The interviewer uses all of the terminology we’ve heard from adverts and news articles alike, language that has been designed over a course of weeks by psychology experts in a company boardroom.
However, it doesn’t take long before harsh reality kicks in; the man is only another pawn in a CEO’s masterplan. The manager doesn’t have any more emotion than the warehouse he works in and as the family’s struggles become deeper, he stands there asking why nobody paid £100 for a much-needed replacement driver.
The mother of the family works as a carer. Her job involves spending the day driving round to various elderly and disabled patients to give them medication and clean up after them. However, she sold the car to pay for her husband’s delivery van and now she has to wait hours for the bus every day. To add to her strife, her son has been in trouble with the police for shoplifting and is at risk of being kicked out of school on account of his fights and missing days.
As usual, Loach has created a drama so realistic and authentic that it feels like watching real-life caught on camera. All of the characters are played by non-actors who have either never been in anything or have only appeared in his previous film, I, Daniel Blake. This never takes away from the quality of the film, however. In fact, this choice of actors, if anything, adds to the realism.
In Sorry We Missed You, hope is an illusion. As the harrowing downward spiral continues, the small moments of happiness become more meaningful, but ultimately lead to an all the more devastating conclusion. We can never be entirely convinced of the possibility of a happy ending. However, like the family, we keep clinging on to the belief of a brighter future.
I rate this five stars – Ken Loaches latest film is a deeply affecting success.