Friday, November 08, 2019

Sorry We Missed You

Kiitos tilauksestasi / Sorry We Missed You [Swedish title].
    GB / FR / BE © 2019 Sixteen Swmy Limited, Why Not Productions, Les Films Du Fleuve, British Broadcasting Corporation, France 2 Cinema And The British Film Institute. P: Rebecca O'Brien.
    D: Ken Loach. SC: Paul Laverty. DP: Robbie Ryan – negative: 16 mm – Super 16 – colour – 1,85:1 – release: D-Cinema. PD: Fergus Clegg. AD: Julie Ann Horan. Cost: Jo Slater. Makeup: Anita Brolly.
S: Kevin Brazier. M: George Fenton. ED: Jonathan Morris. Casting: Kathleen Crawford.
    C: Kris Hitchen (Ricky Turner), Debbie Honeywood (Abbie Turner), Rhys Stone (Seb Turner), Katie Proctor (Lisa Jane Turner), Ross Brewster (Maloney).
    Loc: Newcastle upon Tyne.
    101 min
    Festival premiere: 16 May 2019 Cannes Film Festival
    French premiere: 23 Oct 2019
    British premiere: 1 Nov 2019
    Finnish premiere: 8 Nov 2019 – released by Finnkino – Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Nina Ekholm.
    DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 1, Helsinki, 8 Nov 2019.   

IMDb synopsis: "Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation."

Wikipedia synopsis: "Ricky and his family have been fighting an uphill struggle against debt since the 2008 financial crash. An opportunity to wrestle back some independence appears with a shiny new van and the chance to run a franchise as a self employed delivery driver. It's hard work, and his wife's job as a carer is no easier. The family unit is strong but when both are pulled in different directions everything comes to breaking point."

AA: Ken Loach is at his best in Sorry We Missed You. He has lost nothing of his touch and punch during 55 years, having started in television and being launched onto a screen career with Poor Cow, Kes and Family Life.

Sorry We Missed You is an essential film about the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. In a bigger picture it is also about what has happened to society after the neoliberalistic turn of the 1980s, launched by Augusto Pinochet, theorized by Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and James M. Buchanan, and promoted by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Since Carla's Song Loach's regular screenwriter has been Paul Laverty. Sorry We Missed You is their 15th collaboration.

It's not a film à these. It is a family story based on simple observations and structured on parallel montage. Both parents are heroes of the gig economy, the father Ricky as a driver and the mother Abbie as a carer. The son Seb has teenage growing pains and an epic case of maladjustment at school. The daughter Lisa Jane is often home alone because the parents' workdays are longer than around the clock. She watches David Attenborough's nature shows.

The narrative is crisp, starting in medias res and proceeding via action. This movie is a special kind of thriller: both parents are risking the survival of their family in gig jobs. As their success is based on their keeping airtight schedules, every obstacle becomes a suspense element: a traffic jam, a vicious dog, an elevator out of order.

This is just for starters. Even worse is to fall asleep behind the wheel, being summoned to the police station because Seb has been caught stealing, or being robbed and manhandled. All risks and costs are on the responsibility of the worker who has no lunch break, no medical service nor holiday. Because of the assault and robbery Ricky lands in thousands in debt to the company. The drivers carry large plastic bottles because there is no time to visit the toilet. Abbie has nightmares about drowning into the quicksand.

In Finland a former prime minister, Mr. Esko Aho, coined the expression "kännykkäisä" ("cellphone dad"). In this story it is particularly Abbie who turns into a "cellphone mom". When the parents come home late Lisa Jane has to wake them up when they fall asleep in front of the tv.

Sorry We Missed You is a tale about the supremacy of the digital tools. In Ricky's job the magic gadget is a personal scanner which registers everything about package routes. For Seb it is his smartphone. Ricky makes the fatal error of taking it from Seb when he does not seem to listen his parents who want to save him from getting a police record.

Abbie is angry at Ricky: "It's his life". I think it was Roman Polanski in Carnage, based on the play by Yasmine Reza, who made the point first in the cinema: "My whole life was in there" stated Alan (Christopher Waltz) when his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) drowned his smartphone in a tulip vase.

Sorry We Missed You is a cross-section movie about contemporary society. Ricky and Abbie are constantly on the move, Ricky delivering packages and Abbie caring for the old and the disabled. She is good at it, but the merciless pace allows little room for humanity. We get revealing vignettes of old ones neglected by their children who only look forward to their parents' death. When Ricky is badly beaten we get a gruesome peek at the human condition at the emergency hospital.

These views evoke classics of neorealism such as Ladri di biciclette: a single scene can convey epic insights into society. We are also reminded of De Sica in the account of the relationship between father and son, inflamed in circumstances of social distress.

The Turner family falls into crisis. Ricky hits Seb due to a misunderstanding. Seb leaves home and Ricky realizes for the first time that Seb, keen on graffiti and parkour, has artistic talent and there is "a lot I don't know about him".

Ultimately Sorry We Missed You is a love story about family solidarity. When the Turners for once have an opportunity to share a dinner, Abbie gets an emergency call to visit one of the old ladies she is looking after (the carer on duty having failed). The whole family boards the van with her. When Ricky, terribly bruised and being able to see with one eye only, is nevertheless going to drive to work, everybody tries to prevent him, particularly Seb.

In the final credits the film-makers extends their thanks to the drivers and carers who shared their stories under the condition of anonymity.

The movie has been shot on photochemical Super 16 mm, and in the digital transfer the warm breath and the sense of grain in the image has been sustained.

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