Y’all, we all know that 2020 has been a rough year for all of us the world over…and I hope this year’s news cycle has opened some eyes to the plight of individuals and families around the globe. Life is tough — and some have it a lot rougher than others. And British writer/director/producer Ken Loach has given us a family drama that sheds light on the plight of working class families. Written by Paul Laverty (a frequent Loach collaborator), “Sorry We Missed You” is hands down one of the best movies I’ve seen this year!
At it’s core, “Sorry We Missed You” is a scathing look at the gig economy (if you’re in California, you know all about this…) and it’s effects on the inidivudals and families that participate in it. The film revolves around Ricky (Kris Hitchen), Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) and their two kids — teenager Seb (Rhys Stone) and pre-teen Liza Jae (Katie Proctor) — as they struggle to navigate their financial woes and raise a family in the UK. While the story takes place in a pre-COVID world, the situation that the family is contending with reverberates even more today. The family is caught up in a vicious, never-ending cycle that wears on the parent’s health, sanity and their familial relationships.
What makes this film so good is the fact that you really get to know the characters — you can feel their pain and you really root for them — you want life to work out for all of them. It’s something when you see people sacrificing it all and doing the best they can and it’s still not enough. As the father takes a new job in hopes of improving his family’s situation and giving his wife the life she’s always wanted and deserves, he risks losing it all. His relationship with is son is hanging on by a thread and even though he (Seb) sometimes comes across as an ungrateful brat, he really is just crying out for help — as does Liza Jae later on in the film. It hurts to have to see kids essentially raise themselves and grow up before their time — and not because of neglectful parents, but the exact opposite. We see a mother who is at her wits end and overwhelmed by the demands of her job and parenthood. There are fleeting moments of respite and joy when you start to think, “ok, maybe everything is going to be okay…” and then life comes at you fast.
The film is a touching and emotional exploration of the dynamics of a working-class family. The acting is superb and Hitchen, Honeywood (vulnerable and sensitive but strong enough to keep her family together at any cost), Stone and Proctor all give raw and moving performances — you believe everyone of them so much it almost feels like watching a documentary — the chemistry is palpable. The unraveling of Ricky is heartbreaking. But this film shows the importance of a loving, strong family and trying your hardest to break cycles. And in the end, what makes this a standout film is the fact that it doesn’t give the family a “happy Hollywood ending” — its realism and authenticity at its gut-punching best. It is the plight of millions of good people struggling with the weight of the world and sinking in quicksand — the harder you work, the further you sink. The system is broken…(but that’s a convo for a different day). Honestly, I think I might have been teary-eyed for a solid 30 minutes in this one (blame it being an empath and water sign 🤷🏽♀️) so definitely have something light-hearted or funny to follow this up. Overall, if you haven’t seen this yet, I highly recommend you give it a go!
“Sorry We Missed You” is currently streaming on Criterion Channel.