Directed by Ken Laoch (I, Daniel Blake; The Spirit of '45; Jimmy's Hall; The Wind that Shakes the Barley; Carla's Song; Kes) and starring Kris Hitchen (The Navigators), Debbie Honeywood (Vera (tv series)), Rhys Stone (first role) and Katie Proctor (first role).
Drama; 101 mins; 12+
While arguably not quite up there with his 2016 insight into a working class man from the North of England fighting unemployment bureaucracy after losing his job after sufferign a heart attack, "I, Daniel Blake", this film addresses comparable issues again featuring characters who are hard-working but are continually being beaten by the system.
The storyline features Kris Turner (Kris Hitchen) and his wife, Abbie Turner (Debbie Honeywood), with their two children, Seb Turner (Rhys Stone) and Lisa Jane Turner (Katie Proctor). Back in 2008, they were about to purchase their own home, but the financial collapse put paid to that and they have been renting ever since.
Kris has been performing skilled and unskilled jobs in the construction industry, but now has the opportunity to work as a delivery man for a parcel delivery business: he is informed that, instead of being an employee, he would be his own boss and owner of his own franchise, meaning the harder he works, the more he will earn.
The first challenge he faces is transport - he can either rent a van from the company at a fixed daily rate, or he can buy his own van, which would be cheaper in the long run. However, he needs to put down a cash deposit and the only asset the family owns is her car.
Abbie is a carer and works on a zero-hour contract, not unlike what he husband is offered, and travels to her 5-7 clients daily. If she sells her car to pay for the deposit for the van, she will need to use public trqnsport, i.e. buses. She appears to be very good at her job, and is valued by her clients, but she seems to be contibually filling out forms. She is also frustrated when relaying information and context about her clients to her employer, who appear not to care.
Meanwhile, their son Seb starts missing school, sprays graffiti and is caught shoplifting and fighting, leading to a school suspension. Lisa Jane is also affected by what is happening around her and starts wettign the bed again.
Kris works 14 hours/day, 6 days/week and is exhausted each evening when he returns from work; Abbie too is exhausted. Cracks start to appear in the family fabric and then must work to try and find a way out of their current situation.
A grim and depressing glimpse at life in Northern England through the eyes of a couple who have skills and are not afraid of work but who are caught in the dangerous worls of zero-hour contracts. That means that they get paid for the work that they deliver, and nothign else.
The acting by some of the other characters may not be great, but the family dynamics are brought to the screen to paint a picture of hard-working people who are not alone in battling the system. Ken Loach bring another socialist view of Nothern working-class Britain which should be made essential viewing for all politicians standing in the forthcoming British General Election.
Currently screening at Ciné Utopia (Limpertsberg) and Ciné Starlight (Dudelange). See https://kinepolis.lu/en