TIFF 2019: Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019, UK/France/Belgium)

            Sorry We Missed You is Ken Loach in familiar territory, exploring the plight of a working family driven to the brink. This time focused around the phenomenon of zero hour contracts, Paul Laverty’s script is not revelatory but still manages to hit the right notes. The film is anchored by two strong performances from Kris Hitchen as the husband, Ricky, and Debbie Honeywood as his wife Abby.
            Sorry is devastating and bleak even by Loach’s normal standards, and one of the weaknesses of his latest is its predictability. We have the sense of how things are going to turn out for Ricky and his family as soon as Ricky begins a new job working as a delivery driver. It becomes clear early on that Ricky will not be able to keep up with the pace required from his demanding employer.
            The stress of Ricky’s new job is compounded by the issues he has been having with his teenage son Seb. Seb has been getting into trouble for graffiti and minor shoplifting offenses, placing Ricky and the rest of the family under added pressure. One of the most powerful aspects of Laverty’s script is its exploration of how financial stress can create the conditions that lead to domestic abuse and violence.
            In weaker hands, Sorry We Missed You could devolve into soap opera. One does feel in certain moments that the film is too didactic for its own good, fitting the characters into its overall message without allowing them to breathe and develop on their own. One might argue that the film is too blunt, and this would be true, yet there are moments – particularly between Abby and the invalid people that she cares for – that are genuinely moving.
            The finale, although it feels somewhat inevitable, is also deeply moving. While there is no happy ending in Sorry, there is a feeling of catharsis when the characters attempt to confront the challenges facing them. A confrontation over the phone in a hospital room provides a much needed moment of resistance in a film where our characters our beaten down without reprieve. 



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