I, Daniel Blake (2016)


Directed by Ken Loach
Country: UK / France / Belgium

I, Daniel Blake” is another urgent work from the brilliant British director Ken Loach. This title now becomes an integral part of the filmmaker’s mandatory ‘social realism’ film list, which also includes “Riff Raff”, “Ladybird Ladybird”, “My Name is Joe”, “Sweet Sixteen”, and “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”.

Loach bites, leaving a bubbly red mark in our consciences as he keenly addresses the social problems inherent to a technological modern world. 
The film, written by Loach’s habitual associate Paul Laverty, got wider reputation after winning the Palme D’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and the Audience Award at Locarno, Stockholm and San Sebastian Festivals.

Dave Johns is Daniel Blake, a hard-working 59-year-old joiner from Newcastle who is aware he can’t work no more after having suffered a major heart attack. Now facing a serious heart condition, Daniel needs the help of the State. However, applying for the sickness benefit program becomes a nightmare populated by frustrating phone calls, moronic obligations, and difficult form fill-outs. 
Despite facing eviction and poverty, Daniel still finds the time to help Katie Morgan (Hayley Squires), a single mother he met at the Job Centre. She has just arrived in town and struggles to feed her children.

I, Daniel Blake” is a tragic, moving, not to mention infuriating portrait of a decaying society. Its account, warmly humane on one side and embarrassingly sad on the other, has the ultimate goal of emphasizing the importance of solidarity, justice, human rights, and community support.

Loach’s raw and ultra-realistic approach, always loaded with strong messages, remains a fundamental weapon to denounce the sicknesses of our world. He doesn’t need special effects to create a powerful film. He just focuses on simple characters, which we can easily identify ourselves with, exposing their plausible problems with heart and emotion.