Cinema has always been a bastion of thrill rides and dramatized stories; they stare at the face of impossibilities and make them possible which inspires millions. Occasionally however, we have to be inspired by our own reality, our real world. Ken Loach is a national treasure in British cinema, his films have sparked debate within our own politics and given us a look at struggles that are happening right under our noses. After the whirlwind success of I, Daniel Blake, he aims to make us realize our world’s exploitation with Sorry We Missed You. If you want to judge a Ken Loach film, you must ask yourself if you felt sad or angry by the time the credits roll. Me, I felt both emotions.
I should come with a checklist for every film he puts out as many factors that have made his films so successful are still here and aren’t going anywhere any time soon. First, there is the exploration into something in our politics or society that is, in Loach’s view, morally wrong. Whereas I, Daniel Blake looked at people out of work, Sorry We Missed You is looking at people in work on zero-hour contracts. The film explores how a family has very little, is looking to keep very little while earning very little, and at the same time is threatened with long hours, fines and the illusion that he is his own boss and his destiny is his own hands. It’s a direct attack on an unfair system that is taking advantage of people’s lives. While this is clearly an opinion piece and overstressed fiction, the film works because it’s not a far cry from what’s happening. Loach has perfected fictionalized truth over his long career, and he shows us why he has continued to make masterpiece after masterpiece for so long.
Moving onto the family itself, they are played by wonderful performers who are nowhere near household names but have marked the beginning of forging themselves into that caliber. Kris Hitchen as Ricky Turner has the central story in the film. He is a husband who has moved from job to job after his life took a turn after the 2008 financial crisis. To see him and his family going through their own individual mental breakdowns is torturous to watch because you desperately want them to find a crumb of happiness or salvation. Ricky’s wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) is also having difficulties in her job as a carer. Because Ricky has to sell the family car so he can get a van for his job, Abbie has to travel by bus to see people whose lives depend on her. The performances are so raw and realistic, it helps to make the knock-on effect the story contains as clear a day.
What makes the experience of watching Sorry We Missed You is how relatable it can be at times, even if it’s in the tiniest of details. We can place ourselves in almost every character we see, even if they only stick around for a few brief minutes. Any other film would have possibly skipped over some of these smaller details, but with Ken Loach using them, it resonates so much power in a scene, you have no choice but to think about times when you’ve seen real-life examples.
One of my wishes for Sorry We Missed You is that despite knowing every Ken Loach trick in the book, the structure felt too like I, Daniel Blake. On the technical side, the editing is very similar. The pacing of scenes still very much feels like a tapestry, and while I know for a fact that it is done on purpose and has been seen in various Ken Loach film, the style is starting to get old on me. Furthermore, every powerhouse of emotion scene, the ones that really bring out the audience’s emotions are still closed off by a fade to black. It still works to great effect there is no denying that, but I get the feeling that Ken Loach has lost interest in evolving his craft.
While some film has a solid ending, in the sense that audiences know that this is the final scene, I was taken away when the film ended so abruptly. The knowledge of why the film does this is there, it wants to make you think that the wheel of events is still turning for this family, but ending it so abruptly when you just had a really gripping scene that gets audiences intentionally angry feels out of the blue. there feels more to this story that what we were presented with.
Anyone should have learned by now that you can’t expect a happy ending in a Ken Loach film. His films are made to purposefully get you asking questions about how we have ended up in various ludicrous situations. These films aren’t designed for everyone, they’re designed for people who feel voiceless and what Ken Loach and Sorry We Missed You have been able to do is supply that voice. While I can’t say it’s his best work, not when you look as Kes or I, Daniel Blake, the pure emotional outpour from audiences is something that has not aged a bit.
Final Result: 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen Sorry We Missed You? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below
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