DRAMA; 1hr 40min
STARRING: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood
Time-poor: Proctor and Hitchen
“Like everything around here, Ricky,” his brusque parcel-depot manager (Ross Brewster) assures franchisee newcomer Ricky Turner (Hitchens) about his working options, “it’s your choice.”
In theory, maybe. The reality is that choice is costly and both it and easy money are in short supply in the soulless PDF (“Parcels Delivered Fast!”) warehouse. For starters, there’s a £1,000 deposit on a new van to be scared up before Ricky so much as loads a box. To raise the cash, Ricky’s understanding wife, Abby (Honeywood), must sell her car and bus it hither and yon throughout the city of Newcastle upon Tyne to service her home-care clients. Then there are the pair’s gruelling hours, which leave Ricky and Abby exhausted and their two kids, Seb (Rhys Stone) and Liza Jane (Katie Proctor), frequently fending for themselves.
This isn’t a terrific look. Teenage Seb skips school to spray-paint and winds up on the outs, clashing with his father when called on his behaviour. Liza, meanwhile, struggles with insomnia. As a long-term tradie and a battler to his bones, the 2008 financial crash has left Ricky with no illusions about the constraints of his lot. Self-employment was to be his new beginning, but doing it tough can feel like a sentence, no matter how hard you beat on the bars.
From Poor Cow onward, director Ken Loach has been flying the underdog flag for a staggering 52 years. And bless him, he still cares as fiercely as ever. The Turners are starkly lit by the searchlight of hard truths, thanks to screenwriter and eight-times Loach collaborator Paul Laverty and to the blunt, uncompromising work of their ensemble cast. Hitchen’s Ricky is a fundamentally good man for whom the fact of goodness will never be enough. His undoing is a howl of outrage.