Review by Sean Boelman
Sorry We Missed You, the latest film from acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barley), is a harsh indictment of the modern economy and the gig system that has come about. Thanks to a razor-sharp script by Paul Laverty, the movie manages to be an insightful and captivating watch.
The film tells the story of a struggling delivery-driver as he enters the world of contracted self-employment hoping that it is the solution to his financial struggles, only to get caught in a vicious cycle of exploitation. With this brutally honest story, Laverty and Loach have created what is one of the most subtly heartbreaking slice-of-life dramas in a long time.
Part of what makes this movie so effective is that it also shows the effects that this economy has on the rest of the family. Subplots in the film, though with not as much depth, also explore the protagonist’s wife as she fights to make ends meet as a medical caregiver and their son’s troublemaking exploits.
By exploring all sides of the family, Laverty and Loach are able to obtain a much greater emotional reaction. Although it is sad enough to see the protagonist’s plight as he works harder and harder only to be taken advantage of, it’s even more impactful to see this entire family left in shambles by the economic position in which they were placed.
Laverty and Loach are very straightforward about what they want to say about the gig economy, with many emotionally-charged monologues spread throughout the movie that make it clear to the audience what the message of the film is. Still, thanks to the excellent character work, this message is legitimately resonant and the sentiment does not feel unearned.
As always, Loach does an amazing job of bringing the best out of his actors. Kris Hitchen, in his first leading role, gives what deserves to be a star-making turn. With his delivery, he is able to sell the emotion of every single scene. Debbie Honeywood and Rhys Stone are also very good in their supporting roles, banking off of their excellent chemistry with Hitchen.
On a technical level, Loach basks in the simplicity of his style to create the most emotional final product possible. The movie’s most devastating moments are shot in long takes, the stillness of the camera drawing the viewer into the emotion of the dialogue and the actors’ performance. Loach knows what the biggest strengths of the film are, and he emphasizes them.
Unlikely to leave any audience member unaffected, Sorry We Missed You is an excellent social commentary that transcends the borders of its country of origin. Ken Loach remains one of the most singular filmmakers working today, and this is yet another masterpiece to add to his filmography.
Sorry We Missed You opens in theaters on March 4.