I, Daniel Blake
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Natalie Ann Jamieson, Mark Burns, Colin Coombs
Country of Origin: UK, France, Belgium 2016 100 mins.
Winner Palme d'Or 2016 Cannes Film Festival
Released by e One
Ken Loach's Palme d'Or winner 'I Daniel Blake' is a hit hard, powerful and damning critique of a Kafkaesque system that places bureaucracy above people.
Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), a 59-year-old carpenter in the North-East recovering from a major heart attack is advised by his doctor to rest. The Department of Work and Pensions decide that he's fit to work. Daniel looks fit and he's too honest to play the system. No sickness benefit means bang away for Job Seeker's Allowance, 30 hours a week applying for jobs you can't take. It's easy, do it online, but you need a computer and know how to use it and the one in the public library's old and crashes. Catch 22 lives on.
Enter single mother of two, Katie (Hayley Squires) who's been relocated from a homeless person's hostel in London to a council flat in Newcastle. Alone and not knowing the area, is a great introduction to the Job Centre but Daniel's a kind, sympathetic voice, a man she learns to trust. Job Centre officials won't help, they're not responsible for the system. Daniel helps make her flat liveable but like him she's caught in the system and when you're hungry with two kids and skint, it's the food bank and it's heart breaking. Hunger's hell and compassion's in short supply. What can we do? Do we accept this?
It's a brutal, bare, cruel, unforgiving, destructive Dickensian madness that rips away dignity, so bleak that you wonder whether you should laugh. Shame, fear, loss of self-respect. Good people on the street who've lost everything, existing rather than living in booming Britain.
With long time collaborator, scriptwriter Paul Laverty and cast perfect stand up comic Dave John and Hayley Squires, Ken Loach's powerful and unforgiving assault on injustice hits hard.