Tuesday, 14 March 2017

I, Daniel Blake film review

Went to see this at the Leeds/Bradford Odeon today with my friends Claire, Aj, Karen and Sue.

IMDB says: A middle aged carpenter who requires state welfare after suffering a heart attack is joined by a single mother in a similar scenario.


In this Ken Loach (Kes, The Wind that shakes the Barley) directed film, screenplay by Paul Laverty (Even the Rain, The Angels' Share), Dave Johns (Dog Town, Mud) stars as Daniel Blake and Hayley Squires (A Royal Night Out, Complicit) as Katie, the single mother. 

A 59 year-old widower who is recovering from a heart attack, Daniel has been advised by his doctor and other health professionals that he is not well enough to return to work but when he is assessed as fit for work meaning he cannot receive benefits, he enters the surreal world of looking for a job he knows he is not well enough to take. 

When he sees a single Mum, new to the area and understandably late for her appointment, he tries to help, but Sheila (Sharon Percy: School for Seduction, The Student Prince) is one of the workers who revels in the red tape of their job rather than helping and she insists that security and the job centre security manager (Stephen Clegg in his first role) make them both leave, efficiently doing their job as gatekeepers for the 'decision maker.' As Daniel does odd jobs in her new flat, he gets to know Katie and her two kids, Daisy (Briana Shann in her first role) and Dillon (Dylan Phillip McKeirnan, also in his first role) and they form a strong bond as they try to survive the system that seems determined to ruin their lives.

Dave Johns and Hayley Squires in I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Johns and Squires are superb as these finely drawn characters that never for a moment don't feel real.  Shann feels a little too well spoken for the role, but her acting is spot on, but some of the other actors are not as good yet it never detracts from the film. 

This is a powerful film, not shying away from the moral truth of this sad reflection of today's society.  Neither Daniel or Katie are trying to 'play the system' and for this they are punished and pushed to their limits.  Not a man to take charity, and one who is more used to helping others whether it be caring for his ill wife or his friendship and moral support to a young woman who is essentially a stranger, the film shows how Daniel's former work colleagues and neighbours offer help when he is in crisis, but as a proud man, he does not want to put anyone else in hardship in ease his suffering.

A gritty reflection of a struggle many face, even the colour palette mirrors the slow descent of both of them as the system breaks their spirit.  Dry humour intersperses the gloom, when we see Daniel attempting to use the internet to fill in an on-line form or attending a mandatory CV writing workshop, but the grim spectre of helplessness pervades everything.  The food bank scene, when circumstances break Daniel and Katie's friendship and when Daisy tries to re-establish contact are particularly heart-wrenching and you can clearly see them deteriorate both mentally and physically.

You could have heard a pin drop throughout most of the movie and at the end, I genuinely don't think there was a dry eye in the house.  I think every MP and worker within the system should be made to watch this film.  No-one should have to go through something so heartless and inhumane.  It is about time compassion was brought back.

An authentic portrayal of an all too real situation that any ordinary person could find themselves in.


Trivia: The film was shot in chronological order. Lead actress Hayley Squires was not given the entire script to read before filming. She only was given fragments as accompanying scenes were shot.  The woman helping Hayley Squires' character, Katie, in the much-discussed food bank scene was not an actor - she worked in the food bank, and was not told what was going to happen in the scene.  At the Cannes premiere, Ken Loach and his team were greeted with a rapturous 15-minute standing ovation after the official screening of I, Daniel Blake (2016).  Director Ken Loach is the oldest Palme d'Or winner ever. When he won on 22nd May 2016 for I, Daniel Blake (2016), he was 79 years old.

Consistency error: There is also a scene where a rare nice assessor gives Daniel a plastic glass of water when he does not look well, and it is shown as three cups stuck together, but in the next shot there is only one plastic cup - they should have kept this in as it was far more realistic.

Briana Shann in I, Daniel Blake (2016)

#IDanielBlake  #KenLoach  #Odeon

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with your assessment of this fabulous film which is thought provoking but also highly entertaining