I, Daniel Blake

This movie is a surprise. Daniel Blake is an older gentleman who cared for his sick wife until her death, who has now fallen on hard times himself after a heart attack leaves him unable to work. Well, unable to work according to his doctor and his surgeon and his physio team. Totally fit to work according to the government who would otherwise owe him some sort of compensation.

Blake (Dave Johns) was receiving benefits for disability until a “health professional” (read: NOT a doctor, NOT a nurse) deems him fit and yanks his benefits. He must now apply for unemployment benefits, while combing the streets for a job, which actual doctors have i__daniel_blake_-_still_5cautioned him not to take, on account of his bum heart and it possibly killing him. The bureaucracy gives him the runaround, of course, as he must learn to navigate computers and the internet and smart phones and this whole world of job searching that he’s never had use for in his entire life. The whole experience is degrading, dehumanizing. And yet the film never feels that way. The movie is filled with humanity – not just compassion but admiration. Dignity, even. It’s a much more heartening experience than you might deduce.

Of course Daniel isn’t alone in his plight. At one office or another he meets a single mother (Hayley Squires), struggling to support her two kids. With them we see Daniel’s tender side, his need to give what little he has to others. It’s enough to make you cry (which means it made me cry, good honest tears that the film earned without manipulation).

The characters are quite strongly drawn. Their ordeal feels all too real. It’s sad though. So sad. It’s just further reminder that the system is letting down too many people who truly need it. Though this film is British, it feels universal. The righteous anger is restrained just enough not to be alienating, but to bring everyone into the fold, to make us all feel the iniquity and yearn for justice. A must-see.

 

 

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15 thoughts on “I, Daniel Blake

  1. fragglerocking

    This film is set in Newcastle, which you’ve seen many photo’s of in my blog! Needless to say the natives up here are not happy about being put on the map in a negative way, but to be honest the movie is true to what is happening to people here.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well people should see the movie before they judge – it’s quite condemning of the government bureaucracy but many of the actual people are shown to be kind-hearted.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I think it’s noticeable in this that…he’s in touch. I think a lot of directors lose touch with the ‘common’ people, but his anger here feels real and informed.

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  2. Paul. Writer, Blogger and Filmmaker

    Great review. Ken Loach is master storyteller for the under-class and underdog. I somehow missed this at the cinema so really looking forward to renting this one. The austerity the Conservative government brought in hit so many people unfairly and while banks and corporations get bailed out the individuals on the breadline are forced to suffer. Thankfully films like this point out the hypocrisy of the political and economic system.

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  3. J.

    If anyone was to tell this story, it was always likely to be Ken Loach. The Conservatives approach to austerity is killing people and the rags like the Daily Mail and the Sun demonise folk like Daniel Blake.

    Anyhoo, great review and it’s also great to see you cover this one!

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