Title – I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Director – Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barley)
Cast – Dave Johns, Hayley Squires
Plot – Aging British carpenter Daniel Blake (Johns) has recently suffered a heart attack and is no longer able to work. Struggling to make ends meet, Blake enters into a battle with the state welfare system as they fail to recognise his needs as Blake finds comfort and support from single mother Katie (Squires), who too is having trouble’s with the welfare system in place for her.
“I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect. I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen, nothing more and nothing less. Thank you”
Review by Eddie on 15/08/2017
Whilst never being the biggest fan of British director Ken Loach and his rather stoic approach to filmmaking, it’s nice to see the passionate filmmaker appear from what at the time seemed as though to be a permanent retirement to come back to our screens with this human interest story and 2016 Palme d’Or winning movie I, Daniel Blake.
Likely to enrage as many as it puts to sleep, Blake is a slow yet driven story of 60 odd year old hardworking British citizen Daniel Blake and his battle against the state to be financially supported after the government’s frustrating assistance system continues to mess him around and with nothing much more exciting than Blake arguing about resumes or struggling to handle computers, Loach’s impassioned tale won’t be for everyone but you can certainly appreciate the message being told here.
Always one to make social commentary a major part of his films, Blake will be instantly recognisable to fans of the directors previous work’s as scenes play out in non-cinematic fashion and Dave John’s commendable central performance plays itself out in a highly workmanlike fashion as he seemingly bangs his head against walls trying to find the balance between what he needs to do after his life is turned upside down by his recent heart attack, yet finds possible new meaning when he comes across fellow struggler and single mom Katie and her two children with whom Blake strikes up a friendship with.
It’s within this budding friendship that Blake finds it’s real beating heart as we’re thrown into the scenario that Blake’s struggles to get the answers he needs aren’t at all an out of the ordinary accordance and for many Australian citizens that have ever had to deal with our Centrelink regime, you will no doubt get cold shivers as Blake tries to reason with office workers or get a hold of someone via a phone and it’s within these elements that Blake finds itself feeling like a true docu-drama and very far from a polished film production.
Final Say –
A slow, quiet and often ponderous drama with a rather abrupt and questionable finale, I, Daniel Blake will be a new favourite for diehard Loach fans and an accessible tale for those seeking a piece of bleak and realistic slice of life struggles in the English landscape, filled with solid if unremarkable performances, a grounded script and an important tale at its core, Loach’s film may not be riveting stuff but its humanly engaging and unique in its execution.
3 graffiti attacks out of 5