(director/writer: Ken Loach; screenwriter: Paul Lavertcinematographer: Robbie Ryan; editor: Jonathan Morris; music: George Fenton; cast: Kris Hitchen (Ricky Turner), Debbie Honeywood (Abbie Turner), Nikki Marshall (Traffic Warden), Harriet Ghost (Office Staff), Rhys Stone (Seb), Katie Proctor (Lisa Jane), Ross Brewster (Gavin Maloney), Mark Burns (Homeless man); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rebecca O’Brien; Kino Lorber; 2019-UK)

“The bleak drama asks why things have to be so harsh in the workplace.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A persuasive dark drama on the rigors placed on the everyday struggles of the British working-class in dealing with today’s failing economy. This socially and politically motivated timely film by the 82-year-old veteran Brit filmmaker Ken Loach (“I, Daniel Blake”/”Kes”) is another of his great ones sticking to his old-fashioned formula of telling it straight on how the workers are being exploited in the system, even if it doesn’t break any new ground. It’s co-written by Loach and regular collaborator Paul Laverty. The simple integrity of the narrative and of the quality of the performances by the mostly non-professional cast make this timely political and social film a moving experience about a vital subject for the many workers who are just trying to make ends meet and is a film whose subject is rarely told with as much passion as it’s here.

Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is a former hard working construction worker in Newcastle who lost both his job and his home mortgage after the economic crash of 2008, and now rents a home. He has a loving family that includes his contract home care nurse wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), whose job has her visit dozens of disabled, elderly and vulnerable people every day for their meals and baths. Underpaid and overworked, the nursing job for the last few years has left her little time to look after her two needy kids, the artistic but in trouble with the authorities teenager Seb (Rhys Stone) and his fragile smart kid sister, Liza Jane (Katie Proctor).

Desperate for some income, Ricky gets a job driving a van for a big delivery company. It’s an app-driven posting – a gig-economy non-job. In other words, a half-assed, dead-end job that works him hard and pays him little, and furthermore there are steep penalties if he doesn’t make his scheduled deliveries on time The firm’s hostile manager Maloney (Ross Brewster) treats him rudely, telling him that he will be employed on a quasi-freelance basis, with none of the benefits of conventional employment. He’s also informed that he must buy or lease his own van, or rent one from the firm at a high daily rate.

The bleak drama asks why things have to be so harsh in the workplace. It angrily tells us how those bad conditions negatively effects even a loving nuclear family as the one depicted here. Even if we don’t want to hear it Loach, the ultimate and most consistent kitchen-sink dramatist still making films, points out that no amount of love and goodwill can save us when the cards are so horribly stacked against us (I’m a believer in the message and love Loach for telling us the true situation without sugarcoating the reality of what it’s like for many of the current workers in his country).

sorry we missed you

REVIEWED ON 10/26/2019       GRADE: A-