Archive for November, 2019

Sorry We Missed You, East Dulwich Picturehouse 14 November

November 15, 2019

sorry

So after I, Daniel Blake we get another tale of the deserving poor of Newcastle.

The story concerns Ricky Turner, a construction worker who turns ‘self-employed’ delivery driver and the effect the gig economy has on him, his wife Abby (employed as a carer) and his children, Seb and Liza Jane.  The lad playing Seb did an excellent impression of a schooldays friend of mine from Brotton, say 60 miles away, but then the deserving poor of the North East do not go in for much variety.  Liza Jane on the other hand was just Lisa Simpson with a spelling mistake…There were times at the beginning when the actress playing Abby seemed to be overcome with world-weariness at having to mouth such dismal platitudes…

Unlike Daniel Blake, we got a lot of how people in Newcastle talk as imagined by those who have never been there, and very few nostalgia-inducing shots of the pace itself.

The family seemed to be living in rental squalor in a run-down upstairs Tyneside flat, which already begins not to make sense–if you’ve got a family and no money it’s at least worthwhile putting your name down for a council house.  We also got to see an overcrowded A&E and the houses of various clients of Abby’s who share with her improving moments of working-class history.

The hospital was after Ricky had been attacked and robbed of his valuable packages by a group of scrotes who had come prepared with a sack to put stuff in so they must have known where he would be, but how?  Maybe ESP.  That was early in the morning when he had a full load and we got to see the hospital in the evening, yeah it makes sense.  You could ask why he wore his Man U shirt so encouraging timewasting banter when he wanted to get round quickly or what happened to the money he made when he was providing blameless service on a good route or indeed  lots of other things.

Then again I had some sympathy with the boss Evil Bastard Maloney, who unlike the others had clearly read his Marx before expounding his views on the cash (now modernised to data) nexus, but if you are really living by results rather than incarnate evil you don’t immediately crack down on somebody who has previously been a good provider.

It is probably pointless to point out that operatives who are told what to do, how to do it and when to do it would not count as self-employed for tax purposes or to complain at Seb’s obligatory Black friend (about 2% of the population  of Newcastle have at least some African ancestry, so it’s possible but very formulaic).

Apart from the caricature of life in Newcastle, the real problem is that you need to start with the characters and their relationships and then the way that external circumstances get into them if you’re going to call it a drama, otherwise make a documentary.