By Mónica Delgado
Ken Loach is up for his third Golden Palm with Sorry we missed you, a film of work labor treated as a family melodrama. Everything seemed to link this film to the “soap opera” I, Daniel Blake, hinting to a diptych, since they both have male leads living the transgressions of a system which doesn’t protect the worker. However, the bad taste that his 2016 film left crumbles in the first minutes, to promise a disenchanted tale about this fad of the franchise job (Uber, Glovo and such), but this time in the stage of a business that delivers packages in some city of the United Kingdom.
Sorry we missed you is the name of the business where a family man works, in deceptive conditions. Without labor rights, he becomes a machine of home delivery in its own van, while his wife (a great Debbie Honeywood) works taking care of old people in order to support her two kids. What initially seemed a critical film about these conditions in the franchise work universe, where the employer only authorizes the use of the brand in a very specific agreement, derives, much to its detriment, in an excessive drama (because of how fatality is portrayed) about a family crumbling.
Can a confrontational film against the capitalist system also perpetuate a family nucleus from a conservative point of view? It seems like Ken Loach has long abandoned the political edge of My name is joe or Land and Freedom, securing his Daniel Blake side, deepening in traumas from family relations inside his already worn out social realism, overwhelmed with a tragic causality, which seems gratuitous. Thus, for Loach there’s a place that must be taken care of, stable, in order, and that’s the family. He’s convinced that work and its exploitation is not only an alienation –how can anyone doubt that? But also affects the people and their family nucleus in a terrible way, a home which is conventional, or “classic”, normative, of moms and dads, daughters and sons. There’s this dream in this family tragedy, where the fathers are always blaming themselves of working over fourteen hours a day with no time for home life, or that the children can’t live without mobile phones because it’s simply “their life). There’s not only a criticism of the economic system that exploits them, but an affirmation that the technology also distances and perturbs the family bonds. An old tale.
Director: Ken Loach
Script: Paul Laverty
Cast: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor
Production companies: Sixteen Films / BBC Films / BFI Film Fund / Les Films Du Fleuve / Why Not Productions / Wild Bunch. Distribuida por Front Row Filmed Entertainment
UK-France-Belgium, 100 mins