Superb movie, this. I, Daniel Blake – click here for IMDb entry.
Janie and I had both been tracking this one for a few weeks. Our original plan was to see it at the Curzon, but the nifty timing of 15:20 at The Gate, together with the chance to pop in to the flat afterwards to pick up one or two things, won it for the Gate Picturehouse.
What we didn’t know when we bought the tickets online was that the heating in the Gate had broken down, making the experience doubly bleak.
I mean, you don’t go to a Ken Loach film for heartwarming, do you? You go for bleak. Still, you don’t actually need to feel physically cold and experience personal suffering to empathise with victims of our country’s heartless benefits system, in chilly Newcastle.
So, Janie and I suffered for our art, but it was worth it.
The movie especially highlights how inflexible our state bureaucratic systems are, so if you fall foul of them or make a mistake or have a mistake made about you when you are in an especially vulnerable position, matters can spiral out of control and out of hand so easily.
It also highlights how very dispossessed are those people who do not have ready access to on-line facilities and/or do not have the skills to use information systems.
Ken Loach has previous at highlighting big social issues and making things happen about them; Cathy Come Home being perhaps the most memorable example. I hope there is a reaction and some social change on the back of I, Daniel Blake.
Not as relentlessly grim as some Ken Loach films, as there were glimpses of humanity throughout the film. The kindly job centre employee being reprimanded by her boss for trying to help Daniel…”I’ve told you before, it might set a precedent…” was especially chilling. A scene at a food bank was heartbreaking.
I don’t often implore people to see stuff, but this really is one of those films that ought to be seen by as many people as possible. The film is also an excellent piece of drama. Go see it.