February 8, 2021 – I avoided watching this movie until last night because I knew it was going to be depressing, and it is. It is also a good movie. Every voter in California who voted in favor for Proposition 22 (an anti worker's rights measure) should see it.
Proposition 22 (heavily promoted and allegedly misleadingly worded) excludes ride-share drivers, DoorDash delivery people and other "gig economy" workers from workers compensation, collective bargaining rights and work safety rules. About 60 percent of voters approved it.
“Sorry We Missed You” explores problems encountered by a gig economy worker in the Newcastle area England. The family portrayed is Caucasian. That fact alone might elicit more sympathy from some viewers, even though the essential facts would be the same for a minority family.
Directed by Ken Loach, known for socially critical films, it was filmed prior to the pandemic. This film portrays a family just barely scraping by, deep in debt even before falling for the siren's call of the gig economy. Ricky (played by Kris Hitchen of “The War Below”) tired of working intermittently on construction jobs, decides to work for himself as a delivery man.
Although he is classified as self-employed contractor under the law, in reality he works at the beck and call of a delivery service called PDF (which I assume does not stand for portable document format).
He is required to spend long hours driving all over town delivering packages on a very hectic schedule. He opts for making payments to buy his own van instead of renting a company van at steep rates. In order to afford the down payment on the van, he has to sell the family car. That decision puts his wife, Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) in a bind because she needs the car in order to keep appointments all over town taking care of elderly people.
Taking buses all over town takes more time out of Abbie's busy day, and Ricky's longer hours mean less time taking care of the couple's children, teenager Seb (Rhys Stone) and his younger sister, Liza Jae (Katie Proctor). Unsupervised, Seb, a tagger, gets into trouble with the police for shoplifting spray paint.
As Ricky and Abbie's lives become more hectic, they have less time to spend with each other and their children. Their marriage begins to deteriorate and Seb is in danger of becoming a juvenile delinquent.
Various family crises cause trouble on Ricky's job as well, as he discovers just how little freedom he has under his contract with the delivery company. Every minute of the time he is at work he is tracked with digital equipment. He is required to pay expensive penalties for items or time lost, even if these occurrences are not his fault.
When he asks for time off to attend a meeting with the police about his son's arrest, he is refused by his boss, Maloney (Ross Brewster). Maloney explains his rules are harsh because of brutal competition in the delivery business.
What I have described is just the fun stuff. Worse things happen later. What this movie seems to describe is a world that has regressed back to a time before unions and labor laws. This kind of ruthless workplace deregulation (no overtime, no minimum hourly wages, etc.) and anti-union activity is promoted under the guise of making industry more cost competitive. It is more competitive now, but at what cost in human health and life?
The acting in this film is superb, even though several of the main characters have not acted in films before. At least some of the actors were hired after a search, using what the Internet Movie Database called “a workshop style casting process.” The story is compelling, but this is a very depressing movie, and was so, even prior to the current pandemic.
The pandemic seems to make this story even more heartbreaking because you know people in circumstances like those depicted in this movie are even worse off because of the pandemic. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.