"Sorry We Missed You" a bleak depiction of life in the fast-delivery lane


Starring Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor and Ross Brewster. Written by Paul Laverty. Directed by Ken Loach. Opens March 6 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. 102 minutes. 14A

(3 stars out of 4)

"Sorry We Missed You," the latest underclass testament from blue-collar British auteur Ken Loach, unfolds like a Dickens tale for the digital era.

Newcastle striver Ricky (Kris Hitchen, great), a furloughed construction worker trying to pay the bills as a delivery van driver for an Amazon-like corporate entity, finds his dignity and family slipping away as he struggles to meet inhuman job quotas.

A decent chap desperate to make a go of things, Ricky believes he must do whatever it takes to provide for his wife, Abby (Debbie Honeywood), and their two kids, sullen teen son Seb (Rhys Stone) and devoted pre-teen daughter Liza Jane (Katie Proctor). They live in a cramped rental, a necessary downsizing since the 2008 economic crash stole their home.

Ricky persuades Abby to sell her car and take long bus rides to her job as a home-care nurse so he can buy a van. It's the first of many Faustian deals necessary to meet insane delivery promises that only robots could achieve — and which takes a serious toll on Ricky's head and family harmony.

His best intentions to fulfill his obligations are undone by obstacles and misfortunes both comic and tragic. It could make you think that even God is on the clock, working for The Man.

"Sorry We Missed You" is bleak even by Loach’s no-guff standards, but it kicks like a mule. You'll never again complain about a late delivery.

(This review was originally published Aug. 30, 2019, in the Toronto Star.)

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© 2016 M.L. Bream