I, Daniel Blake




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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by John Dally 9 / 10

Art reflects Life?

I have just watched this film and felt I had to add my voice to others who have rated it.Ken Loach has nailed it again.While many came in to see it with the usual cinema food that can be a noisy distraction as the film progressed you could have heard a pin drop.As the credits started to roll I started to applaud, others joined in. I have never been to see a film where I felt this was necessary.Sadly the film showed how dysfunctional the systems meant to support are failing.This film should mandatory for all in authority and all M.P.s and members of the House of Lords to view.

Reviewed by CineMuseFilms 9 / 10

a confronting portrait of an ordinary man struggling for his dignity in an Orwellian world

If film is a mirror on society then the sheer volume of recent movies about the ugliness of the post- GFC world is a reflection of the scale of devastation it has caused. Most are essays in poverty that explore the loss of humanity for ordinary people. The film I, Daniel Blake (2016) is another in this genre. It is an intense portrait of an ordinary man who struggles to retain dignity in an Orwellian world. Far from entertaining, it is gritty, raw, and unrelenting.Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a rough-speaking but likable 59-year-old tradesman in Newcastle, England. He is recovering from a serious heart attack and lives alone. Unable to work, he does what thousands like him do in such circumstances: he applies for support allowance so he can pay his bills until health returns. What happens next is not the point, rather it is how it happens that will make you cringe. Form-filling becomes an obstacle course for preventing people like Daniel from getting help and the staff who process him absolve themselves of responsibility through constant referral to the "decision-maker" who is never there. Denied support allowance, he must apply for a job-seeker benefit that requires 35 hours a week of documented job hunting. His protestations are officially sanctioned and he loses all support.In the midst of his own inhuman treatment by a soul-less bureaucracy Daniel tries to help a single mother with two young children who is also crushed by the system. Katie (Hayley Squires) has moved from a homeless hostel and is living on food handouts because her benefits have been stopped. She finds 'affordable accommodation' that Daniel offers to repair and he becomes a father figure. Still unable to buy shoes for her children, Katie finds the kind of work that shocks Daniel but is the last resort for many abandoned by a social welfare system with gaping holes in its safety net. Desperate to help her, Daniel vents his frustration through graffiti on the welfare office wall and briefly becomes an urban hero.This is a disturbing film that many audiences will find confronting, particularly those who think they live in a caring society that supports people in need. The pace is slow and the dialogue often terse, but that's how life is at the bottom. The subdued cinematography and colour palette accentuates the drabness of life for the dispossessed. Perfectly cast, the two main actors fill their roles with an authentic voice for countless ordinary people who fall on hard times. There is no joy in this film and whatever humour you find is there to make the story bearable. But in a world that moves inexorably towards a hard-right social conscience, it is a film that cries out to be seen and heard.

Reviewed by Howard Schumann 9 / 10

Not one of Loach's best efforts

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), a 59-year old heart attack victim who is trying to collect welfare in the city of Newcastle, England comes up against a dehumanizing system that seems to be out to thwart him at every step of the process in I, Daniel Blake, British director Ken Loach and his long time scriptwriter Ken Laverty's latest collaboration. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the film has a social conscience and does not hesitate to pull out all the emotional stops, but is unfortunately undercut by an excessive amount of speech making, contrived situations, and sentimentality. Performed by British stand-up comedian Dave Johns, the film is guaranteed to bring laughter, tears, and also anger at the system's coldhearted bureaucrats who know about rules and regulations but not so much about people's needs.The film opens with a black screen. Slowly, we begin to hear a man being interviewed by a woman who identifies herself as a health-care professional. Having to answer lame questions about his cognitive abilities and motor skills but nothing about his heart, Dan tells the interviewer, "We're getting further and further away from my heart." He has been told by his doctor that he is not ready to go back to work and has applied for an Employment and Support Allowance, a stipend paid to those unable to work because of a disability. Unfortunately, the government concludes that he is fit for work, forcing him to appeal to the "decision maker" to change the ruling.Forced to jump through a set of hoops just to earn the right to appeal, Dan must prove that he has spent 35 hours a week looking for work. Applying for Jobseeker's Allowance and not being computer savvy, he has to seek help just to learn how to use a mouse. When he meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a young single mother with two small children (Briana Shann and Dylan Phillip McKiernan) who has just come from London and is in need of assistance, the story becomes about people working together to provide mutual support in dealing with a faceless bureaucracy.Dan and Katie become friends with Dan offering moral support and using his carpenter skills to make her flat more livable. Katie looks for work as a cleaner, sacrifices food to make sure her children are fed, and is even forced to work briefly as a call girl. One of the most heartbreaking scenes occurs at a visit to the local Food Bank when Katie has a breakdown after opening and eating a can of baked beans, but both are resilient and determined not to let the system crush them.I, Daniel Blake, without question, comes from a good place and Blake captures our allegiance with his grumpy determination, kindness and concern for others, but there is little room here for nuance, balance, or objectivity. The film exists to make a point and everything else is subordinate to that. Though the performances are first-rate and Johns has perfect comic timing, I, Daniel Blake is not, in my view, one of Loach's better efforts.

Reviewed by ellscashncarry 9 / 10

A heartwrenching look at the British benefits system...

A heartwrenching look at the British benefits system which presents a real juxtaposition to the ubiquitous 'Benefits Street', 'Daily Mail 'scroungers' headlines-type culture that we've become so accustomed to.'I, Daniel Blake' follows the lives of Daniel and Katie who, although from very different backgrounds both appear to be suffering similar fates at the hands of The State.With believable, real characters, excellent acting and an engaging plot, the film really draws you in, and leaves you feeling grateful for what you have. Yes it clearly has a political message and no it won't be for everyone but it certainly can't be knocked. Better and more important than many of the so called 'blockbusters' we'll see this year.

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