We start the year with a Wivenhoe favourite, Ken Loach and his Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or nominee and winner of the San Sebastian Film Festival Best European Film, Sorry We Missed You. the last film of his we showed, I, Daniel Blake, took on the benefits system and this film takes on the gig economy. Ricky (Kris Hitchen)and his family have been fighting an uphill struggle against debt since the 2008 financial crash. An opportunity to wrestle back some independence appears with a shiny new van and the chance to run a franchise as a self-employed delivery driver. It’s hard work, and his wife Abbie’s (Debbie Honeywood) job as a carer is no easier. The family unit is strong but when both are pulled in different directions everything comes to breaking point.
This is a film about the eradication of workers’ rights in the post-crash age (‘What happened to the eight-hour day?’ a desperate Abbie says), but it’s most potent at showing how as a society, citizens have been able to accept these demonstrable volatile working conditions in the first place. This is a film about guilt, and its vicious role in making those who are in positions of unpredictable work consider whatever given to them as acceptable. Ricky may believe he has the weight of his family on his shoulders, but it’s his wife and kids who want him to slow down hours as he starts to become more and more sucked into the culture of precarious work. Instead, there’s a despairing guilt that Ricky takes on himself that convinces him that his increasingly awful conditions are his only option.
Like all of Laverty’s screenplays, this is a meticulously researched work, and it raises the point that the conditions of Ricky and Abbie are legal, instigated by politicians whom voters have consistently supported into power. And its those people in power at whom this film is surely directed. The genius here is there are no bad people; instead it’s the regime that is unforgiving.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall