Monday, April 6, 2020


I was going to start this piece off by telling a (very true) story about how in 2006 an old employer of mine called me when I was in the emergency room (awaiting to learn that my kidneys were failing) only to ask me where a file was saved on a work computer rather than ask me how I was doing first (there’s a somewhat similar scene towards the end of Ken Loach's Sorry We Missed You where - after being jumped/attacked while on the job - the main character’s boss calls him in the E.R. Waiting room to tell him he’ll be fined for breaking company property and for missing work).
But a more recent topical event happened a few days ago when I was let go by my job in the middle of this Corona virus pandemic. I realize that there are currently millions of people in the same situation as me (some a lot more worse off) but at the end of the day I do have to think about myself first.
Some of you reading this may be saying to yourself; “well, Marcus, Owners & CEOs of companies have to think about themselves and their companies first due to the current situation we’re all in. Perhaps it was too costly to keep you on the payroll” This could be true (it's not, but lets just say it is). But my former employer (and others before it) loved to preach that “we’re a family” nonsense and last time I checked - Families (well, the functional, supporting & loving families I’m used to) don’t put other family members in compromising positions where they now have to worry about income & health insurance. Going back to my earlier example from 2006 - I don't expect anyone to ask me how I'm doing or how I'm feeling, but don't preach that your workplace is a family while expressing more concern over where a PDF is saved more than the health of one of your employees (or "family members"). My most recent employer literally laid me off with one day of health insurance coverage left (awesome timing). I’ve had a kidney transplant so I need health insurance for the rest of my life and Cobra is not cheap (I’ve since been put on my wife’s health insurance but not everyone has that luck/luxury).

Perhaps my understanding of what family means is different...

I say all this to say that I relate to the overall basic premise of Ken Loach’s latest film Sorry We Missed You. And that overall premise is: your job/institution you work for does not care about you. Sure there are exceptions but generally speaking - they could care less about you.
And let me be clear - I knew this long before Sorry We Missed You was released or before the current compromising situation the corona virus has put all of us in. Jobs & employment are about numbers and profits first and people maybe second or third (this should be common knowledge but it still needs to be said). But even if I knew how most employers don’t care about their employees, it still doesn’t reduce the sting & anxiety of unemployment (especially during a time when people are being laid off in large numbers and finding/starting a new job isn’t the easiest task when we need to stay home in order to combat the corona virus).

I didn’t really want to share my thoughts on Sorry We Missed You and how much I relate to it because - and this is a personal thing - I sometimes find it cringy when a major/serious world event happens and people start relating it to movies (similar to how when you scroll twitter & Facebook these days and find endless thoughts & opinions on Contagion and/or Outbreak as if they're the only two movies on the subject of pandemics/viral outbreaks). But as you can tell, I’m in a mood and I also have some newfound free time on my hands at the moment now that I’ve been laid off.

Sorry We Missed You is the story of a working-class family and their struggles in the modern work force. Ricky is a parcel deliveryperson and his wife, Abbie, is a special care/home nurse for various clients. Their son, Seb, is skipping school and getting in to trouble while their young daughter, Liza, seems to be carrying the brunt of all anxiety within the household as she’s the only character who’s able to kind of step back and see the big picture from afar (that’s not to downplay Ricky & Abbie‘s anxiety because they have to pay the bills and take care of the family).
And to add on to that, I want people to recognize that Abbie‘s story is just as important & crucial to the film as Ricky even if she gets slightly less camera time. In my opinion not only does she sacrifice the most (she sells her car early on in the film so Ricky can pursue his employment), but she represents a demographic of workers who are taken advantage of because they’re nice & caring even when they shouldn’t be. It’s easy for some people to take the stance of “Don’t always be so nice” (which is a good stance to have as far as I’m concerned), but not everyone has that ability which is just as much a blessing as it is a curse. Nice people are the easiest to exploit at work and Abbie is a prime example of that.

Sorry We Missed You is perfectly cast, masterfully executed and, as you can see by my intro, is a relatable film on multiple levels. Ricky & Abbie work in specific fields/careers but they're struggle is pretty universal. Many people have gone in to work sick due to fear of losing their job and/or money. Lots people have felt that fear & anxiety of asking for time off to handle to a personal or medical matter (NOT EVEN TIME OFF FOR RESTING OR VACATION, BUT TO HANDLE MORE SERIOUS SHIT OUTSIDE OF WORK WHICH JUST MAKES LIFE FEEL LIKE A CONSTANT GRIND SOMETIMES).

Sorry We Missed You deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Bicycle Thieves. 
Not only do both films start with our protagonists in desperate situations looking for work...
Bicycle Thieves /
Sorry We Missed You

but *SPOILERS AHEAD* they even have similar endings of little to no hope (both films end with the main characters broken holding back tears...

Bicycle Thieves /
Sorry We Missed You


There are even small moments where we see Ricky with his daughter having a moment together that might remind you of Antonio and his son in Bicycle Thieves...

Bicycle Thieves /
Sorry We Missed You

Even if you aren’t a big Ken Loach fan, I challenge any rational minded person to not feel something coming out of this movie. As I said earlier, the issues in Sorry We Missed You were prevalent long before the corona virus caused folks to lose their jobs. I guess the timing/release of it kind of feels like the perfectly executed bad joke.


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