Veteran filmmaker Ken Loach has teamed up once again with writer Paul Laverty to fight the good fight for the left-wing, looking at broken Britain through a working-class lens in family drama Sorry We Missed You. A damning exposé of the issues surrounding zero-hour contracts, the plot follows hard-up handyman Ricky (Kris Hitchen) as he lands a franchise driving job with a delivery firm. Struggling to make ends meet alongside his wife Abby (Debbie Honeywood) who is a hardworking home-visit care worker, the couple reach breaking point when their financial problems escalate.
Setting his story in the north of England and staying true to the kitchen-sink style he’s associated with, Loach paints a bleak picture of modern times. The heavy-handed nature of some narrative elements results in a lesser sense of authenticity than brutally honest previous project I, Daniel Blake. A petty exchange between Ricky and a fellow football fan sticks out as a particular sore spot. After a relatively light-hearted opening act, the developments take a darker turn when Ricky and Abby’s teenage son Seb adds fuel to the fire of the family’s misery. The script can be emotionally manipulative, it undoubtedly carries power behind its political punch.
To add to the truthfulness of the topical subject matter, mostly non-professional actors make up the cast. This gamble tends to pay off in the field of social realism, and lead performer Kris Hitchen is phenomenal in the role of the protagonist. While some of the amateurs around him can be somewhat iffy in their delivery, he elevates every scene and is the beating heart of the piece.
Harrowing and hard-hitting in its depiction of family hardship, Loach leaves no stone unturned in his portrayal of impoverished employment. Boosted by a hugely impressive performance by Hitchen, Sorry We Missed You is important, must-see cinema.