Review: I, Daniel Blake
Director: Ken Loach
By Sarah Stopforth
I, Daniel Blake is a frustrating watch but, more importantly, it is an angry cry from citizens of the world towards the systems that do more harm than good; systems that have lost all their humanity.
When 59-year-old Newcastle native, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is deemed medically unfit for work after he suffers a major heart attack, the longtime carpenter must seek help from the State for the first time. If you have ever applied for financial help from the Government, then you can relate first hand to the hell they put you through; Daniel Blake is no exception. At the State offices, he meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother who is new in town and was late for her appointment. Katie and her two young kids, Daisy and Dylan, have been living in a one-room London homeless hostel for the past two years and had to move over 300 miles away to a flat she could afford. Daniel and Katie form a strong friendship on their common feelings of getting screwed over by the welfare system. Daniel helps to fix things around their flat and babysits regularly. They form a sweet kind of dysfunctional family amidst a time of little hope, in the dark tunnel of bureaucracy in Britain.
From renowned political British-filmmaker Ken Loach, I, Daniel Blake is making waves across the world, most notably at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the top prize – the coveted Palm d’Or – which Loach is no stranger to. Ten years ago, Loach’s 2006 film The Wind That Shakes the Barley also won the prize , making him one of nine filmmakers to win this honour twice.
Luna Palace Cinemas joined forces with Foodbank WA, who provided food bins outside Cinema Paradiso and Luna on SX during the opening weekend of I, Daniel Blake to help supply food for the many people in similar situations as Daniel and Katie across Western Australia. Over 2,500 charities and 1,500 schools collect the donated food and distribute it to adults and children in need.
I, Daniel Blake is an important political statement that comments on, and raises awareness of, how warped the British welfare system is, particularly for those who cannot use or do not have access to a computer. Most importantly, the film shows how Daniel Blake could be any one of us: any citizen of the world.
Johns gives an outstanding performance as the eccentric Daniel Blake, and Squires plays Katie with a raw, emotional commitment that reeled me into the film without flaw.
Ken Loach’s film creates an emotionally charged story that sets the scene perfectly for social realism, which is something everyone should see.