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Sorry We Missed You Is A Gem On Impoverishment

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Sorry We Missed You

Sorry We Missed  You

Starring: Kris Hitchen  & Debbie Honeywood

Directed by: Ken Loach

Rating: ****(4 stars)

The same  day that I saw Anubhav Sinha’s masterpiece  on domestic violence Thappad,  I also saw  British mastercraftsman Ken Loach’s latest work .And I couldn’t stop  marveling  at  the stark differences between the two.Sinha’s film suffused with background music takes us through the  lives of well-to-do middleclass women grappling with a one-off incident  of domestic  violence.

 I wondered  what  the wife  Abbie,  played by non-professional actor Debbie Honeywood, in Ken Loach’s film  would have  to say about  the  worries of womanhood in Thappad.Abbie  works from morning  till late  night as  special caregiver to the  terminally ill or the old or the dying whom hospitals  won’t accept. For a large  part  of  the film, we see Abbie  visiting different  clients(she hates that  word ‘client’) trying not to get involved with their fragile lives . Needless to say it isn’t easy.

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Abbie’s husband Ricky,played  by Chris Hitchemn, has been hit hard  by  recession. He  has joined a courier service where  the hours are grueling , the  clients unpredictable and  sometimes violent.

Together  , from  morning till night, Ricky and Abbie slog their butts of  trying to give their two growing children a  life of security . It doesn’t work.As the  film progresses we  see with  unbearable grief, how  all of  this  brave dignified couple’s effort to keep the family’s head above water, is  going to waste.

 For a  large  part, Ken Loach follows  the two  non-actors(and I   mean this  in the most complimentary  way) going from door to door where their  job takes them. With zero  adornments, minimum back ground and  maximum use of natural sounds, Ken Loach creates a world  we all know,  a world where wealth is some good  food on the table and a good night’s  sleep.

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Loach brings to the  middleclass struggle  a kind of  dignified  desperation that is heartbreaking. There  is  a sequence where   one of  Abbie’s  compassionate clients  combs Abbie’s hair singing a traditional  lullaby for her, while Abbie weeps silently.

 My eyes  well up as  I describe this  sequence. Some  critics have said  this film should have been  just Abbie’s story and  her husband’s as well.  After  seeing Abbie’s outburst at  the end when  she gives her husband’s  ruthless  boss a  mouthful I’ve to agree with that.So many  families across  the  world  would  fall apart were  it for an ‘Abbie’.

Sorry We Missed You is  a film you’ll be sorry to miss. It shows the deepest struggle  of the workingclass  in Britain with the same heartbreaking honesty as  Paddy Breathnach’s  Rosie. Though the  cockney accent  may  be a bit of  a problem this is  a film that leaves  us with a profound  sense  of loss. Is  it Ken Loach’s best? Who’s to say? How would you choose  among  the  films from the luminous oeuvre of this minimalistic master  whose character  don’t act. They  just are.

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