I Daniel Blake, am a citizen, and as such, I demand my rights.
Getting it right
By Roger Childs
This latest movie by Ken Loach is a beauty. It won the Palme D’Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year and the selection panel definitely got it right.
I Daniel Blake has no sex, violence or scenery, and very little music, and yet it packs an enormous punch.
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 a heart attack threatens to upset his comfortable existence and confidence in the future.
This film is a must see: five stars.
Daniel gets entangled in the bureaucracy of form filling, applications, qualifications and job seeking. He’s not computer literate so when told to do things online, he struggles. One government official tells him We’re digital by default.
However, he has an ally in Kate, who is a single mum with two children. They have escaped a one room place in a London hostel to get a bigger flat in a city 300 miles away.
Dan and Kate both have to battle “the system” to survive, and their interwoven stories makes compelling viewing. They come across a number of helpful people, but the key decision makers are the other kind.
A moving experience
The two leads: Dave Johns and Hayley Squires are brilliant, and all the supporting cast, from the two kids to the obsequious civil servants, play their parts superbly.
Ken Loach has never flinched from telling the tough stories, and this is another masterpiece of social realism set in modern Britain.
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 and bleak, there are occasional delightful touches of Geordie humour.
This is a film which is not to be missed. In the words of The Guardian reviewer, Peter Bradshaw, I, Daniel Blake is a movie with a fierce, simple dignity of its own.