Sorry We Missed You (15)***

Dir: Ken Loach

With: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor

Runtime: 101 minutes

KEN Loach has been making films for more than half a century. That he continues to do so at the age of 83 shows his dedication to social-realist filmmaking and the continuing crappiness of so many British lives. Five decades on from Poor Cow (young mother, battered woman), Loach turns his attention to the so-called gig economy.

We meet Ricky, played by Kris Hitchen, as he is being interviewed by the boss of a courier service. It is the usual to and fro about terms and conditions, but with one crucial difference. In the brave new world of casual working, Ricky is treated as self-employed. He does not work for the firm, he works “with” them. He is not paid wages but “fees”.

What it all adds up to is a zero hours contract and naff all security. Have own white van, or hire one from the firm, will work 14 hour days, six days a week for not very much.

Ricky’s wife, Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), a care worker, is also part of the gig economy, racing from client to client, never enough time. With both parents stretched, their teenage son is skipping school and their youngest daughter looks after herself, guided by voicemails from mum. Welcome to the modern British family.

If you ever wanted the low-down on how all those lovely packages manage to get to you so quickly at seemingly little to no cost, it is all here, in grim detail. Like free lunch, there is no such thing as gratis delivery. Someone is paying, and here it is Ricky, rapidly reaching the end of his tether.

Never ones to scrimp on misery, Loach and his longtime screenwriting partner Paul Laverty pile it on here to an excessive degree. There is the odd moment when a little sunlight is allowed to shine through, as when father and daughter have a Saturday together delivering parcels, but there is a price to be paid even for that.

The largely non-professional cast turn in moving performances, with young Rhys Stone particularly good as the son trying his best to buck against circumstance. A powerful piece and a tale well told all round, but as ever with Loach’s films one is left with the feeling that he is preaching to the converted. But at least he is preaching.