Sorry We Missed You is the latest offering from director-slash-social-critic Ken Loach; a polemic against the false promises of the gig economy and the brutal reality of life on a zero-hours contract.
Its protagonist is Ricky (Kris Hitchen), who gets a new job as a delivery driver because he wants to buy a house for his wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) and two kids. Our hearts sink as he’s told by the warehouse boss, a Geordie hard man and self-described ‘patron saint of nasty bastards’ known only as Moloney, this isn’t really a ‘job’ at all, but an opportunity to run his own business.
So great is this opportunity that he has to sell his wife’s car to buy the delivery van, and pay for someone to cover him if he needs a day off. That sinking feeling sticks around for the rest of the film, as Ricky’s life becomes ruled by the demon device that he uses to check his parcels in and out, which tracks his every move and bleeps if he spends more than two minutes on a delivery. Like all great entrepreneurs he doesn’t have time for toilet breaks, so he’s given a bottle to keep in the back of his van.
You don’t go to a Ken Loach film expecting laughs, and Sorry We Missed You doesn’t deliver many. At times it teeters on being unbearably bleak, but it is smattered with little moments of human connection that pull it back from the brink – the genuine companionship between Abby, a carer, and the old ladies she visits, for instance, or Ricky and his daughter ignoring the bleeping for five minutes to share some sandwiches in the back of his van.
This feels like an important film. If nothing else, it might give you a newfound respect for the person who delivers your next Amazon parcel.