I, Daniel Blake

Studio: Sundance Selects
Directed by Ken Loach

Jan 17, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
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Ken Loach’s searing brand of social realism has made him one of the most important voices in British cinema for decades. After announcing his retirement in 2014, he’s reneged already for I, Daniel Blake, a Palme d’Or winning rage at the Byzantine and deliberately obstructive system locking the needy out from help in the UK.

Daniel Blake, played with warmth and convincing frustration by Dave Johns, is an aging carpenter in Newcastle. Unable to work after a heart attack, he’s left jumping through arduous and contradictory hoops to receive help from the state. Along the way he also strikes up a friendship with Hayley Squires’ single mother Katie, penniless and alone after moving from London with her kids.

The film taps deep anger but is partially undone by the insertion of too much drama. The message that life is unfair for those cut out by the right-wing Government in the UK doesn’t need constant indignation and extra prodding in every scene ranging from shoplifting, prostitution and food banks to uncaring benefits office employees. An emotionally powerful dissection of a nightmarish system tips into unnecessary polemic, falling short of the state of a nation piece it could have been.

www.ifcfilms.com/films/i-daniel-blake

Author rating: 7/10

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