By Joanne Sargent
I must admit I hadn’t heard the terms “gig economy” and “zero-hour contracts” until I was researching our next Film Society movie, Sorry We Missed You.
Zero-hour contracts offer no guarantees of hours; the gig economy pays per piece or delivery or “gig.” These exploitative labour practices and their devastating cost to so many workers is the focus of this powerful British social drama.
Sorry We Missed You follows a working-class family caught in the nightmare of economic uncertainty. Ricky has been hired for a “great self-employment gig” as a delivery driver. He works ridiculously long hours with no breaks; his wife Abbie also has long 12-plus hour workdays doing community care, and together they barely get by. And, because they’re hardly ever home, it’s taking a huge emotional and physical toll on them and on their two children. Through the course of the film, the stress and uncertainty cause these really decent people to slowly fall apart, struggling to maintain their dignity.
Well-researched and honestly acted, this is a moving story with family dynamics at its core, occurring between gruelling unfair shifts. It’s a poignant and heartbreaking look at the hardships of the underpaid and underappreciated. The story is told with real empathy and isn’t all doom and gloom, but it is difficult to watch at times. You leave the theatre feeling upset and angry that people in the modern economy are subjected to such shameless working conditions.
Sorry We Missed You shows twice on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 5 and 7:30 p.m. at the Salmar Classic. You’ll be sorry if you miss it.