Ken Loach directs the best
By Roger Childs
Unfortunately I missed plenty of films others recommended, so this is based on what I saw. (Sadly I didn’t see Spotlight.)
Suffragette and Sully come close, but Loach’s I Daniel Blake takes the prize.
This was social realism at its best: a man with health problems wanting to get back into the work force facing the government bureaucracy.
The main character lives in a flat in Newcastle upon Tyne, but his wife has passed on. He is a decent, solid citizen who has worked for decades as a joiner, but suddenly his comfortable existence is threatened.
Battling the bureaucrats
Dealing with government servants, Daniel gets entangled in the business of form filling, applications, qualifications and job seeking.
He’s not computer literate, so doing things on line adds to his woes.
He has an ally in Kate, who is a single mum with two children, and fresh in town from faraway London.
The two of them have to battle “the system” to survive, and their interwoven stories makes compelling viewing.
A class act
The two leads: Dave Johns and Hayley Squires are great, and the supporting cast, from the two kids to the obsequious civil servants, play their parts superbly.
In typical Loach style there is tight editing and no frills, and Paul Laverty’s crisp, pointed dialogue is utterly convincing.
Although much of what unfolds is grim, sad and bleak, there are occasional delightful touches of Geordie humour.
Unquestionably Nocturnal Animals.
This was fashion designer Tom Ford’s second movie following his impressive A Single Man.
Shame about number two, which bears all the worst hallmarks of Hollywood productions: pretentious, overacted and unnecessarily violent.