Directed by Ken Loach
Screenplay written by Paul Laverty
Starring Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Natalie Ann Jamieson & Stephen Clegg
Feature running time: 100 minutes
A middle aged carpenter who requires state welfare after injuring himself, is joined by a single mother in a similar scenario. (Source: IMDB)
Heart wrenching, upsetting and frustrating in equal measure, this film is all these things and more when exploring the current issue of unemployment in the UK and it’s fractured benefits system. Its a raging issue as such that it bears and holds more striking relevance in today’s world than it ever has before.
As a first time viewer being introduced to the work of Ken Loach, it will definitely not be the last. Here is a renowned film director completely unaffected by the Hollywood seduction, living and making films in Britain, to which all of them are instilled with his usual vision of British socialist realism that are focused on social and personal issues that really matter the most in Great Britain.
As many of us whom have already unfortunately experienced the nightmare and stress of having to sign on at local job centres all while being sniffed at by the staff that work there, the message that I, Daniel Blake is doing to open up our eyes to, couldn’t have been more driven home, and frankly, it doesn’t really have to try hard to hammer it in to us. In a country that is now post-brexit with the final vote saying yes to the UK leaving the EU, this film couldn’t have arrived at a more sincerely important time, urging as many people to go see it as much as possible; its one that demands anyone and everyone who’s proud to be British, with the strong belief in uniting together towards becoming a better nation, to watch and support this brave and affecting piece of film-making.
Amidst all the frustration and anger and rage, there are also some humorous and lighthearted moments to be had here as well; not to mention acts of triumph from the film’s central titled character as Daniel Blake (Johns) finally stands up to the authorities that keep rejecting his claim for an appeal after refusing his eligibility for any job and employment benefits. This is the story of a 59 year old man who suffers a major setback after recovering from a major heart attack at work, someone who is a grafter and can build and put literally anything together from wood but completely lost when it comes to working out how to use a computer, where all applications for job benefits now have to be made on-line in a digital day and age that Blake finds utterly bewildering.
But its actually the character of Katie (Squires), a single mother struggling to live with her two kids and trying to make ends meet that really made my heart pour endlessly out to. Having to relocate to Newcastle from London after being on the waiting list from the council for so long, making the adjustment in a completely new environment with hardly enough benefit money to feed her kids, let alone herself, has taken its toll a considerable amount. Its during a scene at a food bank where you really get to see how heart breaking and miserably bleak our future has really become when a character is driven to such desperate measures on the account of the percentage of UK unemployment being so ridiculously high. As it’s already been mentioned at the start, this film is frustrating and depressing to say the least, but definitely an essential viewing that really commentates and digs real deep into the biggest state of current affairs that has been damaging this country the most.
The only real negative thing I have to say about this film is that as an independent feature, its another one that sadly is doomed with not having a more wider release, shown to very limited cinemas across the country and this upsets me a lot. Not only is this considered as a very important film in the current times we live in but can also be used as a huge wake up call with an educational purpose at its very helm. If there was a petition available for this film to get a much more wider recognition, I’d do it.
Absolutely unmissable. If you don’t cry or at least feel completely distraught or heart broken at the end, you have no heart nor soul.