‘Sorry We Missed You‘ is a poignant story of a middle class family fighting their way through the vices of bureaucracy while beholding the immense complexities of life in this socio-political system. Ken Loach the director of the film is known for his authentic British socialist and realistic style. His earlier venture I, Daniel Blake won the prestigious Palm D’or at the Cannes Film festival. These two films give us a clear indication that Ken Loach is not going to leave the wrath of bureaucracy that falls on the faceless crowd, unheard. The fascinating thing about the screenplay of ‘Sorry We Missed You’ is that it doesn’t embellish or exaggerate the narrative. It moves in an accepting manner putting the spotlight on the characters rather than the issues. One can always read the policies in the daily bulletins but it is a complex state of affairs to show the effect it causes in the life of an individual. The filmmaker looks keen to understand how a family goes through an adversarial patch and how it changes them and their dynamics. The most exceptional quality of Ken Loach is that his characters send a pang of empathy rather than sympathy. We relate to it. We have been privy to such situations before. We might not notice them as they are too inconsequential but that doesn’t mean that we leave them unheard. They also form a part of this flawed system.
‘Sorry We Missed You’ narrates the story of Ricky Turner (Kris Hitchen) who is fighting a grueling battle to provide for his family. His wife Abbie Turner, played by Debie Honeywood is also striving hard to make the ends meet. Their family is still suffering from the havoc caused by the 2008 financial crisis. The family lost its house and Ricky lost his job. He starts a new job as a delivery driver, which provides him an opportunity of working for himself. But as we are well aware, such franchise policies always present a grandiose plan and as soon as an individual gets allured or sucked into their trap, they slowly wrap their tentacles around him. What Ricky failed to notice, in the extreme desperation of procuring money was the hidden work culture beneath the extravagant offer. Abbie works as a home care nurse taking care of the elderly mostly. She guzzles the hardships without complain, even when she is strong armed by her husband to sell her only asset, a car, to buy a delivery van for him. Despite such depravity she maintains certain standards in the professional as well as personal life. She understand the complexities of a teenage mind and the significance of parenthood in the upbringing of a child. She often says that it is her moral duty to care for the elderly like they were her own parents. Abbie feels the need to give more time to her family, specially her son, who is going through a very tricky and rebellious phase of teenage life. With every passing day Abbie inches towards her breaking point. We see her running out of the means to respond to the exigencies of this modern warfare. Their daughter Lize Jane (Katie proctor) understands way beyond her age. She looks out for the family in a way that is extremely adorable. You feel a weird sense of melancholy when you see such a dainty soul going through such privation. All the iniquitousness of life has disoriented the sagaciousness of their son named Seb (Rhys Stone). He is a rebel for a cause that he is not capable of understanding in a comprehensive way.
The Simple Desire of Restitution
Ricky and Abbie toil day and night just to be able to own a house, clear their debts and give their children a bright future. Taking a day of is a luxury for them which they cannot afford. They are just surviving this grind in a hope that one day things would go back to normal, that once again they would be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Once again they would be able to have dinner together at the dining table, once again they would have the liberty and time to stop and savour each and every moment, to spend time with their daughter and engage in a conversation with their son. But things don’t seem to be going their way. As Abbie exclaims
“It feels like we are sinking into quick sand.”
No matter how much they try, they keep sinking further. We never know for sure that would they be able to cross this tumultuous ocean. Would they ever come out of this quicksand? ‘Sorry We Missed You’ does not give us any surreal curves but chooses to keep it naturalistic, just like life. What is even more disheartening is that they are not asking for some ludicrous thing, but a basic life free of such mental and physical strain.
It wouldn’t be exorbitant to say that the duo of Ken loach and Paul Caverty, the screenwriter, possess a deep understanding of how it feels to look at the sky from a dark and unfathomable abyss. They tell us that acceptance isn’t a sign of our weakness, it doesn’t mean that you have lost. It just means that you refuse to stop, even if it means getting debauched by this preferential system.
Sorry We Missed You is a British-French-Belgian drama film directed by Ken Loach and written by Paul Laverty. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Sorry We Missed You is available for Video-on-Demand.
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