A 59 year old carpenter recovering from a heart attack befriends a single mother and her two kids as they navigate their way through the impersonal, Kafkaesque benefits system. With equal amounts of humor, warmth and despair, the journey is heartfelt and emotional until the end.
Director and writer's own commentary track to DVD issue is full of critique against current UK Government welfare state policy as depicted in the film: and they thank many of the approaches and dialogues to the Job Centre advisers as based on real ex workers there, although they could not be personally be credited (see credits sidebar) because, they state, they are legally forbidden to speak publicly about their work. See more »
When Katie is sanctioned for turning up late for her appointment to sign on she says later to Daniel that she was hoping to get payment the following day. This is wrong the money would be paid three days after signing-on not the next day. See more »
Dan, they'll f@ck you around, I'm warning you. Make it as miserable as possible. No accident. That's the plan. I know dozens who have just given up.
Well, they've picked the wrong one if they think I'm gonna give up. I'm like a dog with a bone, me, son.
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A very special thanks to workers within the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] and PCS [Public and Commercial Services] Union who provided us with invaluable information but who must remain anonymous. [Government edict that public employees in these departments cannot speak publicly about their work.] See more »
Composed by Ronald Binge
Performed by The Alan Perry/William Gardner Orchestra as The Perry/Gardner Orchestra
Conducted by Ronald Binge
Licensed courtesy of Mozart Edition (Great Britain) Ltd. See more »
After seeing "I, Daniel Blake" there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Ken Loach isn't just the best director to have come out of Britain in the last 50 years but one of only a small handful of great directors still working today. Of course, his films are not merely 'entertainments'; he is the most unashamedly political director there is and "I, Daniel Blake" is his most unashamedly political film, certainly since "Cathy Come Home". It is also possibly his best.
Once again the writer is Paul Laverty who was worked with Loach numerous times in the past, (theirs is the among the greatest of all cinematic partnerships), and his superb script cuts to the bone. As someone who has sat on both sides of a Benefits Office counter I can honestly say that no-one strikes a false note here. Loach is famous for working with non-professionals or largely unknown actors, (Carol White, a fresh face when she made "Cathy Come Home", David Bradley in "Kes", Crissy Rock in "Ladybird Ladybird"), and "I, Daniel Blake" is no different.
The title character is played by stand-up comic Dave Johns and the young, single mother he befriends is Haley Squires. Add in an extraordinary cast of British character players and you have a film that oozes a documentary-like realism from every pore. Of course, at times it is virtually unwatchable. This is a film about victims and the appalling bureaucracy that sees them slip through the net. You could say it is a film about the failure of the Welfare State. Unlike "Cathy Come Home" however, I can't see it touching the hearts and minds of our present Tory Government which surely is shameful. Brexit, we have been told, is about taking back control but control of what; an appallingly defunct system where to care or show feeling is almost a sackable offence? The film was rightly applauded at the screening I attended and is the best I have seen this year.
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