Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/France/Belgium, 2019. Sixteen Films, BBC Films, BE TV, BFI Film Fund, Canal+, Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter Empowered by Belfius, Casa Kafka Pictures, Cine+, Cineart, France 2 Cinema, France Televisions, Le Pacte, Les Films Du Fleuve, Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral Belge, VOO, Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch. Screenplay by Paul Laverty. Cinematography by Robbie Ryan. Produced by Rebecca O’Brien. Music by George Fenton. Production Design by Fergus Clegg. Costume Design by Jo Slater. Film Editing by Jonathan Morris. Cannes Film Festival 2019. Toronto International Film Festival 2019.
The gig economy is the focus of director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty’s latest investigation into the injustices of life for the less fortunate in modern England, and they have once again come up with a film that is as riveting dramatically as it is thought-provoking. As with I, Daniel Blake, the failures of the system to make it reasonably possible people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps are condemned in no uncertain terms by both artists, though with less obvious manipulation than the last time around and with a much more spontaneous sense of one setback leading to bigger ones after it. Unable to find a job and unwilling to go on the dole, family man Kris Hitchen takes a job working package deliveries for a company that signs him up as an independent contractor (he’s paid per delivery) but is run by an overseer who barks expectations at him on a regular basis. His wife Debbie Honeywood works as a personal care worker, doing home visits that are harder to manage now that she’s had to sell her car to finance the van her husband needs to do his deliveries. Trouble at home grows more serious as neither of these two have much time to spend with their kids, a sensitive young girl just about to enter her teens and a teenage son who is well into his rebellious phase. The appeal of this new form of employment, which threatens to undo all the gains of labour movements of the last century, is supposed to be the flexibility and doing things on your own terms, but making enough to get by requires them to work constantly, while keeping the job is dependent on everything going smoothly all the time (which, in real life, and especially when you have kids, is never going to happen). Hard questions result in no easy answers but, as is often the case, Loach’s sympathy is doled out generously and without sappy sentimentality.