Sorry We Missed You tells the story of Ricky (Kris Hitchen), a husband and father of two children who lives in Newcastle. Struggling to make ends meet, their family has always cared for one another, despite their acknowledgement that achieving financial independance remains unlikely. When Abby sells her car so that Ricky can begin a career as a freelance driver, he feels like things may begin to turn around for them. However, as the pressure of life on the road begins to take its toll, Ricky must choose what matters most to him, lest he lose his family in the process.
Directed by the legendary Ken Loach, Missed You is a window into the everyday lives of the blue-collar worker. There’s a sense of reality that pervades Loach’s work as he seeks to draw attention to the struggles of those whom seldomly have their stories told. As always, Loach’s style remains as simplistic as possible. Camera work is engaging but not flashy. The cast is quality yet does not include any particular ‘star power’. As such, Loach keeps his audience from distractions, allowing them to remain focused on the challenges of the world in which his characters live.
After Ricky finally gets the opportunity to be a freelance driver, his world finally seems to crack open with rays of light. Whereas his life has been consistently controlled at the hands of others, Ricky’s move appears to be progress towards independence. However, long hours, low pay and hazardous working conditions soon become his new master as he faces even greater pressure to attempt to make ends meet. Driven by his passion to provide for his family, he subjects himself to continued abuse at the hands of his supervisor and clients.
Of course, herein lies the irony of Missed You. As Ricky pushes harder to make ends meet, the time, effort and stress required to do so begins to tear his family to pieces. Without the time to invest in his children, his son becomes increasingly emotionally distant and involved in dangerous activity. With his absence, his wife feels him pulling away and their communication falters. Here, Loach provides his argument against the plight of the capitalist system which commends work ethic but destroys relationships. In other words, Loach uses the story of Ricky to highlight the tension between the struggle for success and the value of family. With each passing day, as his attempts to prove his worth to his family by earning his wages, Ricky becomes increasingly distant from his family and they suffer as a result. Through the story of Ricky, Missed You presents Loach’s bold argument that the true enemy to domestic life is a capitalist environment, as it emphasizes finance over family.
While the film focuses exclusively on the story of Ricky and his home, Missed You feels like a window into the lives of anyone who struggles in plain sight. There’s an honesty and pain in Loach’s work that makes Missed You well worth watching. As with much of his work, Loach continues to call for attentiveness to the suffering of those around us, regardless of whether or not they fall into our perception of poverty.
In the case of Ricky, the greatest struggle of his family remains that he may work himself to death.
Sorry We Missed You begins to roll out in theatres on Friday, March 6th, 2020.