I, Daniel Blake (2016) Poster

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9/10
From Britain to China, workers' very own solidarity is their social security
sakarkral8 October 2016
This movie caught me by my heart, like every other piece by Laverty- Loach cooperation. It is not a thriller, there are no twists, no peaks of emotions. It shows the naked reality of our everyday lives with its great pains and humor at the same time. But, the "banality" of these great pains is the strength of the movie, it shows how every encounter with the system is the time we face the reality of the system and look for someone who will give a hand us to survive it. Of course, this is mostly valid for the working class. The film softly depicts that it is not a socialist propaganda, because when truly shown the reality itself unveils as a socialist propaganda.

But the film is not another documentaristic presentation of the everyday life of a worker, as it also shows how to cope with all these we experience. It is the formation of a solidarity with others like us, the woman in the queue, the Chinese in the factory, the black in the warehouse, the clerk at the office... We are already connected, even with those in other continents. Once we see someone shouting with his writing on the wall, we should shout with him with our voice. If one of them writes a letter, another should spread its word.

A shot in the head of the Britain's social security system, a great call for solidarity.
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10/10
Time out of Mind...
NORDIC-224 June 2017
Many other reviewers have already spoken eloquently and in detail, in praise of this deeply moving, superlative film. I'd just like to offer an observation from a somewhat different angle. What struck me about 'I, Daniel Blake' was an aspect of subaltern powerlessness that pundits often overlook, i.e., that the poor and marginalized are almost never in control of their own time. In the USA dentists, doctors, therapists, lawyers, and all sorts of professionals get to maximize and monetize their time to the nth degree. As for govt. agencies like the DMV or employment or benefits offices--they are often (under-)staffed by bureaucrats who are in no hurry to accommodate John Q. Public. Patients/clients/supplicants wait (and wait and wait) in their spot on the usually stalled conveyor belt to get their allotted modicum of perfunctory attention. After all, they're just cogs in the revenue stream and THEIR time is deemed unimportant. Same thing with phone access to govt. agencies, bureaucracies, insurance companies, you name it. These corporate entities have complex and often confusing "phone trees," long wait times on hold (during which horrendous music plays), and customers reps who are often either obtuse, indifferent, mean-spirited, or confused themselves. For the poor seeking any sort of public assistance these nuisances and indignities are multiplied tenfold because--as 'I, Daniel Blake' dramatizes--the System doesn't really want to serve the so-called "disadvantaged"; it wants poor folk in need to get discouraged and go away (and hopefully die and decrease the surplus population).
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10/10
Important Film
Jerominator8 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Honestly, I'm too upset and exhausted after watching that to write a substantial review. As someone who's been put through this system and is waiting under the sword of Damocles to go through it again, this was a hard bloody watch. But I knew it was important so I made myself watch it. I was actually surprised how well they captured the process. So much resonated. It's very hard to put into words when you're going through it but there's this ubiquitous enmity from start to finish, regardless of the legitimacy of your claim, regardless of your circumstances. It's nothing less than psychological warfare aimed squarely at the working classes and the disabled who cannot win in this situation. I particularly like how they captured the disgusting Catch 22 aspect of this rigged process. Whereby all legitimate claims are cynically refused by default. Then they automatically switch you to jobseeker's allowance from which point they set the rottweilers on you to bully you into paid or unpaid work by a process of harassment and public humiliation. It's easily the most sinister process I've ever experienced. I was shocked and horrified by it. There have been many stories in the press about people who are patently unfit for work who have been deemed fit for work by these criminals. And they inevitably end up killing themselves. The UK took a sinister run when Thatcher took power. The country has never been the same since. It is no less than warfare on the working classes, the poor, the disabled, and the sick. It's about time we drove these crooked traitors out of their comfortable leather chairs in Westminster and gave them a taste of their own medicine. It's gone too far. Anyway that's more than I wanted to say. I can't fault the film. It crammed a lot in there to illustrate the problem start to finish and I salute Ken Loach for this very important piece of work. Great acting and cinematography. A special nod to the people who played the bad guys. That is hard to pull off. It sent shivers down my spine they did such a good job. Thank you Ken Loach.
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9/10
A wake up call for Tory Britain. Brilliantly satirises our hateful benefits system.
markgorman22 October 2016
Ken Loach does it again.

If you know Ken Loach (and importantly his writing partner Paul Laverty) you'll know I, Daniel Blake.

It's a nightmare.

A total nightmare.

Life on poverty line Britain that is.

And Loach hammers this home with gusto.

He chooses Newcastle as his latest political landscape, partly because "it's grim up North" but also because, in my experience, Geordies are the salt of the earth; kind, lovable folks. And this is the main emotional driver of this nightmare.

Daniel Blake is caught in a trap.

A bureaucratic hell populated by "computer says no" mini Hitlers occupying mainly minor roles in the Jobseeker hell that is Tory Britain. In a bid to out 'scroungers' the system has eaten itself and is spitting out vulnerable pitiful fodder like Daniel (played deeply sympathetically by comedian Dave Johns. He'll never win an Oscar but this part was made for him) and the lovable but deeply vulnerable Katie (played equally well by Hayley Squires - Call the Midwife).

He's had a heart attack and his doctors say he can't work but the Benefits Police say he has to go on jobseeker allowance and look for work or lose all entitlement to any money AT ALL.

It's farcical.

She's moved from a women's hostel in London because she can't afford a flat in London with her two children (one slightly miscast as a rather posh daughter, Daisy). She's having the same problems, only hers start from a tinpot Hitler chucking her out of the Job Centre for being late for her appointment.

They bond. He helps her. She helps him. It's grim but deeply affecting. We then follow their shared struggle.

In many ways this movie is like a Ken Loach Primer. It has all his usual trademarks and the 'working class people are good' message is laid on way too thickly.

But.

And it's a big but they are in a profoundly believable real-life drama and I found myself in tears (of collective shame?) three times during it.

It certainly makes the reality of food banks in Britain very, very meaningful. I won't pass a collection point again if my conscience holds up.

Everything that is good about Loach is in this film. In parts it's laugh out loud funny (but it's laughs of derision at our State). In parts it's deeply moving, even though some of the plot is verging on the ridiculous.

But who cares. Ken Loach holds a mirror up to our frankly DISGUSTING society and mocks it.

But he mocks it with the most vicious of venom.

It feels real. Really real.

It's a must see.
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10/10
Gripping and moving
dazzanormc19 March 2017
This is an excellent movie. Brilliantly written and directed, this is a no holds barred look at the British benefits system and how it dehumanises people who need State funded help.

The two lead characters have gripping back stories. Daniel and Kate help each other come to terms with how the State sees them as nothing but a number and an unwanted burden.

The movie is gritty, heart breaking and funny in parts. It is a social commentary that Ken Loach is so good at, showing what a great filmmaker he is. This is not a feel good movie but it is a rewarding and thought provoking watch.
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9/10
Gritty but compulsive
valhowells-5577026 September 2016
I left the cinema with a lot to think about after viewing this film. A gritty and realistic drama portraying the processes and outcomes of claimants caught up in today's benefit system, sometimes with dreadful outcomes.

Every public servant, politician and voluntary sector worker should be expected to watch this film. A lot of it is not easy viewing, and certainly not suitable for a fun night out, but the message it gives about today's society is compelling.

I think a message should be included on-screen but before the credits suggesting people contact the Citizens' Advice Bureau if they are experiencing any of the issues raised in the film.
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8/10
A heartwrenching look at the British benefits system...
ellscashncarry25 September 2016
A heartwrenching look at the British benefits system which presents a real juxtaposition to the ubiquitous 'Benefits Street', 'Daily Mail 'scroungers' headlines-type culture that we've become so accustomed to.

'I, Daniel Blake' follows the lives of Daniel and Katie who, although from very different backgrounds both appear to be suffering similar fates at the hands of The State.

With believable, real characters, excellent acting and an engaging plot, the film really draws you in, and leaves you feeling grateful for what you have. Yes it clearly has a political message and no it won't be for everyone but it certainly can't be knocked. Better and more important than many of the so called 'blockbusters' we'll see this year.
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10/10
The best film I have seen this year.
MOscarbradley3 November 2016
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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Tears, and laughter, but mainly tears - angry tears.
kallanjames26 November 2016
I watched 'I Daniel Blake' a few hours ago in Prestatyn Scala with about twenty others. Others have covered the details so I'll just record my feelings. Anger, tears, laughter, more tears more anger. It is as though the half century between "Cathy Come Home" and this never happened. The acting removes any barrier between players and audience, we all felt in the scene, we all felt we were part of their background. Seeing actor's names against these characters on the end credits was almost a shock. The cast were experienced as people not actors playing people. Loach manages to multiply the grim Northern ethos by never filming on a sunny day, guaranteeing grey skies throughout the movie. The most colourful scene was almost an accident - near a brothel a brick wall has more colour in it than the rest of the film! A masterpiece: spontaneous applause at the end is such a rare thing in a cinema.
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7/10
Unapologetically Political, Openly Moral
ilpohirvonen21 September 2016
After Ken Loach's latest film "I, Daniel Blake" (2016) took home the most prestigious film award of the year, Palme d'Or at Cannes earlier this summer, there has been a lot of discussion or at least anticipation of discussion on the film. The Guardian, for one, published a long article where people from all walks of life shared their differing opinions on the film. As a fierce story of social relevance, telling about an ailing carpenter whose life goes to pieces in the vast sea of bureaucracy, "I, Daniel Blake" is bound to be criticized for being didactic and demagogic as it hits the commercial screens. Some will fall in love with the film for its honest authenticity, while others will be put off by its unapologetic directness.

The film begins with the title character, Daniel Blake going through an assessment in the unemployment office after his doctor has deemed him unfit for work due to a heart condition. Unfortunately, Daniel ends up in a paradoxical position, the likes which Kafka could have devised, where he is not concerned unhealthy enough to apply for sickness benefit and has to therefore apply for job seeker's allowance, coercing him into a pointless cycle of searching for jobs he cannot really take. In the middle of this absurd jungle of gray offices and red tapes, Daniel befriends Katie, a single mother of two in a similar situation. Daniel's cardinal sin in the bureaucratic world is his refusal to play by its rules, to fake and to pull the strings where needed.

Loach is known for his simplicity in both style and narrative without ever coming close to minimalism. His simplicity is of a different kind, a simplicity of the heart on the level of the subject matter which is often social by nature. This simplicity gives room for the unfolding of story and character in their natural state which is of the utmost importance for Loach's intentions. At times warm and funny, at others raw and brutal, the story of "I, Daniel Blake" is hard to be dismissed for its authenticity. It will likely speak to most people as do the great realist novels of the 19th century. It is a simple voice with real thought and emotion behind it, saying something of relevance, straight out and loud. While the title of the film might pave way for quasi-libertarian interpretations of Loach's critique of the social benefits system, his intentions could not be clearer to those who have seen the film. The titular character is merely someone to carry the torch of solidarity; to Loach and others, he represents a mass of millions. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote that the film "intervenes in the messy, ugly world of poverty with the secular intention of making us see that it really is happening, and in a prosperous nation." This is the simplicity which gives Loach's cinema its moral aura.

Although many may feel put off by the film's direct social message and strong moral pathos, which can feel didactic or even demagogic at times, and it will not find its dearest fan in yours truly either, I think the film deserves acclaim for its integrity. The film does not hide its rhetoric or its message. After all, its "leftist agitation" may not be stranger than the ideology of upper middle class family life propagated by contemporary popular culture. The way I see it, "I, Daniel Blake" is more a personal expression of worry and concern rather than manufactured propaganda with an impersonal agenda. At worst the film might be preachy or sentimental, but at best it is the most authentic thing Ken Loach has done since "My Name Is Joe" (1998), a parallel work in the truest sense of the word. To put it bluntly, I am glad that "Jimmy's Hall" (2014) did not end up being the legacy Loach left for cinema; but "I, Daniel Blake" could very well be just that.
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10/10
Hard Hitting Real Acting
SinghNo128 September 2016
This film is hard hitting and heart wrenching, tears through and came out crying.

A try to replicate how the authorities are treating the venerable in the face of devastation. It is heart wrenching. It might have been based what has happened to a few in the recent past. I think Paul Laverty took a leaf out of the records and wrote the strip and Ken Loach put it on screen in the best possible way.

Agree with other reviewer A must see film by not just the general public but the Authorities to waken them up and hit them hard.

At the end at least in our screening there were applause of appreciation to Ken to show how well he has done to make this look so real.
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10/10
Art reflects Life?
JayDee51511 November 2016
I have just watched this film and felt I had to add my voice to others who have rated it.

Ken Loach has nailed it again.

While many came in to see it with the usual cinema food that can be a noisy distraction as the film progressed you could have heard a pin drop.

As the credits started to roll I started to applaud, others joined in. I have never been to see a film where I felt this was necessary.

Sadly the film showed how dysfunctional the systems meant to support are failing.

This film should mandatory for all in authority and all M.P.s and members of the House of Lords to view.
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8/10
a confronting portrait of an ordinary man struggling for his dignity in an Orwellian world
CineMuseFilms22 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If film is a mirror on society then the sheer volume of recent movies about the ugliness of the post- GFC world is a reflection of the scale of devastation it has caused. Most are essays in poverty that explore the loss of humanity for ordinary people. The film I, Daniel Blake (2016) is another in this genre. It is an intense portrait of an ordinary man who struggles to retain dignity in an Orwellian world. Far from entertaining, it is gritty, raw, and unrelenting. Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a rough-speaking but likable 59-year-old tradesman in Newcastle, England. He is recovering from a serious heart attack and lives alone. Unable to work, he does what thousands like him do in such circumstances: he applies for support allowance so he can pay his bills until health returns. What happens next is not the point, rather it is how it happens that will make you cringe. Form-filling becomes an obstacle course for preventing people like Daniel from getting help and the staff who process him absolve themselves of responsibility through constant referral to the "decision-maker" who is never there. Denied support allowance, he must apply for a job-seeker benefit that requires 35 hours a week of documented job hunting. His protestations are officially sanctioned and he loses all support. In the midst of his own inhuman treatment by a soul-less bureaucracy Daniel tries to help a single mother with two young children who is also crushed by the system. Katie (Hayley Squires) has moved from a homeless hostel and is living on food handouts because her benefits have been stopped. She finds 'affordable accommodation' that Daniel offers to repair and he becomes a father figure. Still unable to buy shoes for her children, Katie finds the kind of work that shocks Daniel but is the last resort for many abandoned by a social welfare system with gaping holes in its safety net. Desperate to help her, Daniel vents his frustration through graffiti on the welfare office wall and briefly becomes an urban hero. This is a disturbing film that many audiences will find confronting, particularly those who think they live in a caring society that supports people in need. The pace is slow and the dialogue often terse, but that's how life is at the bottom. The subdued cinematography and colour palette accentuates the drabness of life for the dispossessed. Perfectly cast, the two main actors fill their roles with an authentic voice for countless ordinary people who fall on hard times. There is no joy in this film and whatever humour you find is there to make the story bearable. But in a world that moves inexorably towards a hard-right social conscience, it is a film that cries out to be seen and heard.
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10/10
Still finding it hard to understand Brexit? Go and watch "I, Daniel Blake"
gmitchell-1314 November 2016
I don't think I have ever walked out of a cinema feeling more angrier and upset after watching a film. But last night was a first. The reason? Ken Loach's film "I, Daniel Blake". Why? It challenges to show the decay of society that we all know is happening, but prefer to ignore because it's not happening to us personally (yet!)

For anybody who is still struggling to understand the results of the recent Brexit referendum,(and quite possibly the American Presidential Elections) I would recommend watching this film. The unlucky, the ill, the struggling, the poor, and those who now have no hope left are bleakly portrayed through real and believable characters.

While selfishness from older voters, lack of education and racism are widely claimed to be the factors behind the support for Brexit, the film cleverly dismounts all of these, leaving the elephant in the room as the continuing decline of society, rising poverty and governmental response to the real problems of the working class.

As one of the most abandoned areas of Europe, all of the North East of England voted for Brexit with the narrow exception of Newcastle where curiously the film is based. You start to understand why no-one there has any reason to vote to maintain a political system that is so obviously rigged against the the working class and their destruction.

Yes. I would highly recommend "I, Daniel Blake". But be warned, it's not comfortable viewing for anybody.

In a surrealistic modern day "Catch 22" situation Daniel Blake, a 59 year old carpenter after suffering a heart attack, is declared medically unfit for work. He then needs to confront a state welfare system that is not only completely deficient, but politically designed to further exclude those who it claims to help. What could be just a dark comedy rapidly turns into extremely uncomfortable viewing.

My congratulations to Ken Loach, the actors and the entire team who made this film. A stark lesson in both social and political sciences for today's society and those in power who claim to represent us.

Ironically, the film was made with funding from the European Union. It's about the nearest thing to a joke in the entire 100 minutes.
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8/10
A raw and honest look at ow the British system fails it's people
SpoilerAlertReviews23 October 2016
Ken Loach is a name I always recognise but then struggle to remember any of his work. I think, "ah good, it's by Ken Loach" and then "what's he done again? Oh Kes!" But Kes was 47 years ago and shamefully, I'm not familiar with any of his films since then. One conclusion from this realisation is that Loach has a strong reputation as a filmmaker and this was my long awaited reunion.

We follow Daniel Blake, a middle-aged carpenter who's taken a few recent knocks, one of which is suffering a heart-attack and deemed not able to return to work. It's a position no one would want to be in, forced to sacrifice your own health or lose everything you have worked so hard for.

We witness the hurdles that seem purposely put there to hinder payments, speaking from personal experience I can relate to this situation to a degree. How are people such as Daniel Blake suppose to survive, or better still, have a good life they are suppose to be able to live.

It's a harsh reality on how parts of the British system fails it's people and proof that there's no real incentive to do things by the book. Having been in a similar situation myself, skirting the unemployment line getting advise from people who have no ambitious or understanding of what I wanted to do.

Taking this on a more personal level, I quit a stressful position last year in the hopes of pursuing my own dream of being an artist and writer. Having to sign agreement that I would spend a number of hours trying to find work and having to provide evidence of doing so each fortnight would grant me the universal credit that I never actually received. I actually had a good case worker, as everyplace of work has good people, but equally there are those that can't see beyond, much like what is portrayed in this story. Though, instead of supporting me in trying to be something I both enjoy and apparently good at, they attempted to find me similar stressful jobs that I left for my own sanity, wanting to place me back amongst the wolves.

Dave Johns is exceptional as Daniel Blake, emitting the boiling frustrations of the soul- destroying turn of events, right to the very end. Hayley Squires' Katie is short of brilliant too, displaying the tremendous pressure when faced with these kind of tribulations. Though, the acting from the rest of the supporting cast is less desirable, it's forgivable.

It's a raw, honest and emotional look at the suffering and poor way of life some unfortunate people have to contend with in Great Britain. It's compelling, invoking and upsetting, showing the great lengths and risks people go through in order to maintain their self dignity. It's certainly a film that boasts Loach's credibility.

Running Time: 8 The Cast: 7 Performance: 7 Direction: 7 Story: 8 Script: 8 Creativity: 8 Soundtrack: 6 Job Description: 10 The Extra Bonus Points: 10 for the difficult subject matter and perfect portrayal. Would I buy the Bluray?: yes

79% 8/10
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9/10
An accurate depiction of British benefit system.
ruthbroxton16 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
An accurate depiction of the benefit system is portrayed in this heartbreaking film. For anyone that has been in Daniels predicament, being out of work after a long length of employment, will feel empathy with his position. If you have not had to endure the ridiculousness that is the Welfare system in Britain, prepare to see a typical string of scenarios that makes up the bulk of the film, will wind you up like a tightly coiled spring and send you to the same place, mentally, as Daniel. I predicted the ending and because of his medical condition this wasn't too much of a surprise. This is the only film in a long time that has made me cry. Not at the predictable ending but at the memories that resonated with me about our benefits system and how it degrades you and takes away any dignity or pride that you may have left after being made unemployed.
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10/10
brilliant
alansaltmarsh13 January 2017
this is my first review of a film so much so that i felt compelled to join IMDb to leave this review. i will keep it plain and simple for my first.

i have just watched this film and shed tears which is not good for a 44yr old man who rarely admits to this!

This film is just stunningly simple yet stunningly amazing in every aspect from the acting to the directing to the story, absolutely beautiful. the story is so true and current to what is happening right now to this over populated overstretched island that the politicians need to sit up right now and watch this film.
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9/10
Daniel Blake, Christ in disguise?
roozbehfeiz30 December 2016
"I, Daniel Blake" is a well-made, touching, socially conscious, and multi-layered film. I give it 9 out of 10, a point short of a masterpiece, only because its social criticism is sometimes "too direct". I tend to prefer more articulated and subtle forms of critique.

Daniel is the lead character of the story. He is in his early 60s, an experienced carpenter who cannot work anymore due to his recent heart attack. Halfheartedly, he has applied to receive social support (aka Employment and Support Allowance), but has encountered a dysfunctional and inhumane institution. Another main character is Katie, a single mother with two young kids. She, also, has unsuccessfully turned to the UK's social support system, and same as Daniel, has been disappointed. In her ultimate despair, she turns into prostitution. Daniel and Katie meet each other early in the film and become good friends. They help each other, presumably, without any earthly demands or expectations. The film ends with a speech by Katie who narrates a letter on behalf of Daniel, posthumous.

As far as I can see, the main elements and symbols of the story are as follows:

  • Neighbor: China is Daniel's neighbor. He is a lively and energetic boy in his 20s and makes a living semi-illegally. He has a warm and frank relationship with Daniel. In addition to China, the theme of neighbor has a wider presence in the film. In the speech by Katie, Daniel refers to "I look into my neighbors' eyes". Here by "neighbors", Daniel mean "fellow citizens". He is not ashamed of them, because he has paid all his duties. In addition, we know from the film that he usually has a simple and good relationship with people of his neighborhood and wider society. Therefore, we can conclude that all the members of society are, somewhat symbolically, his distributed neighbors.


  • Carpenter: Daniel is a carpenter. He cannot work, due to his medical conditions, but he is always available for useful activities. His background as a carpenter is quite pronounced in the film. He seems to constantly engage in making wooden objects in his leisure time at home. When Daisy, Katie's daughter, asks Daniel "Are you a soldier?", he replies "No. I am more dangerous than that. I am a carpenter!"


  • Prostitute: Katie who is rejected by the UK's social system is forced into prostitution. Daniel is her main, and apparently only, friend.


  • Fish: Daniel carves wooden fish and use them in decorative objects. Fish is his main icon. He gives one of his handmade objects to Daisy. Later, when he has to sell his furniture to a second hand dealer, he refuses to sell his hand-tools and the decorative thing which he has built with wooden fish. "They are not for sale", Daniel says.


  • Privatization, dysfunctional institutions, and the authoritarian state: In the social support offices, there are many references to the fact that social services have become increasingly privatized, and run for private profit, rather than the public good. If I am not wrong (English is not my mother tongue), I think I heard a short reference to privatization of police. The state is presented as a cold, distant, techno-centric, and rather brutal institution. The fact that some groups of society, like Daniel or Katie, are excluded from its support is presented as a rule, rather than an exception. In many shots, we see warning signs which inform the coverage of the area by security cameras. Security guards are present, vocal, and confident, more than the employees who are supposed to help the underprivileged citizens. The dysfunctional institution in not delivering what it is supposed to deliver, but this does not stop it to call the police when there is a small dissidence, and the police arrives within minutes, ready to impose the cold rule of law on the voiceless protester.


  • Change: Daniel has trained hands and knows how to make and fix things. But he is computer illiterate and runs into problem when he is forced by an increasingly computerized public services. The younger generation are computer literate. But this generational gaps is not one directional. It goes both ways. When Daniel wants to play a cassette for Daisy, she has no clue what a cassette is and how it can be played in a player.


I think many of these symbols are there to construct a parallel with the story of the Christ. Jesus, too, was a carpenter by profession. He also emphasized on the importance of neighbors, in a very special and universal way (the story of the good Samaritan). He and Mary Magdalene, a prostitute woman, became good friends. He belonged to the underprivileged parts of society, and focused on the poor and the marginalized. Eventually, he was murdered by the state. Perhaps, Ken Loach and Paul Laverty (the writer) are trying to tell us something by embedding these symbols in the story.

Christ was a peaceful but radically revolutionary figure. He was killed by the state, but ultimately transformed an empire. Are the film makers telling us that the likes of Daniel Blake are modern Christ-like figures in disguise?
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10/10
Floods of tears
I Daniel Blake. Wow. I spent 1/3 of the film laughing, 1/3 of the film angry and 1/3 of the film in floods of tears. Can't believe I'm saying this but Ken Loach's best. The scene in the food bank will stay with me forever. After the film, I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm happy. Corbyn would approve (not of the system, but the film let it be noted). Ten out of ten. In the words of Ken Loach, if this film doesn't affect you or anger you, what sort of person are you?
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10/10
This is a deeply humane and all-two relevant movie from the 80-year-old English film maker Ken Loach
asifahsankhan1 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A blistering and emotional incident of faceless bureaucracy is made by veteran British film maker Ken Loach in his superb new movie, I, Daniel Blake, which deservedly won the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

The central character, Daniel Blake, suffered a heart attack at work. Until he is fully recovered he has been strongly advised by his surgeon, GP and physio that he should not attempt to seek gainful employment. After being forced to answer a series of irrelevant questions, a health specialist from one of the companies the government has outsourced its welfare education tests to, notifies Daniel that he is fit for work. Thus, like so many other people, he finds himself caught up in a system of complaints and appeals, waiting for something to change.

At first Daniel's good humour carries him through. He may initially appear to be a loner, but when he meets single mother Katie and her two children, his warmth and compassion shines through. For a time his own predicament takes a backseat as he fights for her rights – the scene in a local food bank is heartbreaking as we see how much Kate has sacrificed for her children. But Daniel's case seems to be going nowhere and exasperation with the system finally pushes him to express his exasperation publicly.

This is a deeply humane and all-two relevant movie from the 80-year- old Loach and probably his best film since Cathy Come Home, aided of course by a gritty, unsentimental script by his regular collaborator Paul Lavery. Made in the manner of a dramatised documentary, it is angry at a system that demeans people, but has enough compassion for some of the people employed by it whose desire to help those in need is hindered by callous administrators.

Of course the film wouldn't have the impact it has without two excellent central performances. Dave Johns, previously known as a stand-up comedian, skillfully balances Daniel's Veneer of gruffness with whip-smart humour, while newcomer Hayley Squires is very moving as Kate.

This undoubtedly is the best British Film of last year and shows all too vividly that no one should be treated as a statistic.
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9/10
Packs a thunderous emotional and social wallop
paul-allaer14 July 2017
"I, Daniel Blake" (2016 release; 100 min.) brings the story of the title character. As the movie opens, a recent widower living in Newcastle, is being interviewed to assess whether he is healthy enough to work (Dan suffers from a heart condition). "When can I get back to work?" he keeps asking. As it happens he isn't cleared to work, yet he also is ineligible to unemployment benefits. Along the way, Dan gets to know a young single mother with two kids, who are in sheer desperate conditions. At this point we're 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from veteran British director Ken Loach, now a crisp 81 years young. "I, Daniel Blake" continues his long string of 'social commentary' movies. Here he sheds a light on the British welfare system, and let's just say that it's an unfavorable and uncomfortable light. The absurdities become apparent very quickly. This film caused an uproar in the UK, where a debate raged as to how accurate the film portrays the welfare system. I honestly have no idea, but I can tell you that the movie works very well AS A MOVIE, and it packs a thunderous emotional and social wallop. There are certain scenes you feel both outraged and gutted at the same time. Dave Johns is excellent in the title role, but even better is Hayley Squires as the single mother Katie. She will absolutely floor you. "I, Daniel Blake" premiered at the 2016 Cannes festival to immediate acclaim (it won the Palm d'Or), and it has accumulated a bunch of trophies, including Best Film at this year's British equivalent of the Oscars. (In sharp contrast, is was COMPLETELY overlooked by the Oscars...)

I don't know why it's taken so long for this movie to get a theater release in the US, but it finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly, to my surprise and dismay. "I, Daniel Blake" is one of the best films I have seen so far this year (and I see a lot of them), and I strongly encourage you to see this out, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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8/10
Brilliant - and Brilliantly Flawed too.
brian-97-7438674 October 2016
I went with a friend to a special preview screening of the movie. Pre to the screening, one of the movie's production team spoke to the audience to explain how this was a very important movie, that required word of mouth to ensure it was seen by the masses.

This is an unashamedly political movie by Ken Loach. But no surprises there. It's a tough movie. Its a movie that makes you angry and sad and frustrated. Is it, however, an accurate movie? Is it as important as Ken Loach wants us all to believe?

Here lies my problem with this film.

As a piece of storytelling its a strong movie. Its a movie that really shines a light on the misery of being caught in the benefits trap that exists for some people. The characters are great... engaging, lovable, pitiful, nice 'citizens'. If the movie was purely telling a story about these two main characters (and the children) and highlighting how the system is flawed for these two characters only...then it is a success with spades.

But I believe the movie is essentially trying to portray all people caught up in the benefits system as poor unfortunates who are all outstandingly good individuals. There is the issue.

For every Daniel Blake - there is a Benefits Street candidate. For every Katie there is a Dee.

I grew up in Tyneside (where this movie is set) on a council estate where the vast majority were 'on the dole'. I witnessed the widespread abuse of the benefits system by people who were as far removed from the characters portrayed in this movie as could be. I therefore found it hard to truly feel the emotional impact that I know others will feel.

Does the movie highlight some of the harsher issues currently being faced by people like Daniel Blake? Yes it does. Is that acceptable? No its not.

The story of Katie, was for me the stronger. A single Mum doing her absolute best under very difficult circumstances. The food bank scene is terrible to watch, but brilliantly acted.

The main thrust of the story is Daniel Blake's predicament. Highlighting how a person who has suffered a heart attack, and is unable to work due to medical advice can be rejected Disability Support Allowance by the 'independent' assessment system and then forced into Job Seekers allowance (and the online emphasis thereafter - and proof of looking for work) is extremely well constructed. But Ken Loach wants us to believe this system is 100% flawed for all people. It simply isn't. But when it goes wrong.....the human impact is terrible. That is the story....

I wanted that to be clearer. I wanted the movie not to become Left Wing Socialist propaganda. It ended with Daniel Blake being tagged the 'Citizen' with appropriate badges given out at the end of the movie..... A overt political cry for Left Wing Socialism. But this is Ken Loach after all.

Sadly, this turned me off, and after spending an evening reflecting, I believe ultimately that will damage the movie for many others too. I completely sympathized with the main characters (you couldn't not), but do not accept that the system is as malicious as it was portrayed. The stereotypes for all Management and Establishment was too much. The convenient way the movie tries to brush off benefit abuse (such as applying for jobs to tick a box to receive benefits - with no intention to work) was too convenient.

Not all people or citizens out there are as good as Daniel Blake. I am fine to accept the message (and premise) that the system should be flexible enough to adapt to Daniel Blake's (and that should have been the whole message) but do not accept that the system should allow everyone free reign to live on benefits without any forms of control.

Would I recommend this movie. Absolutely.

Will I take to the streets afterwards. No.
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5/10
Not enough subtlety, too much melodrama
rubenm31 October 2016
One thing I like in films, is subtlety. And the one thing that's missing in 'I, Daniel Blake', is subtlety. Ken Loach has made wonderful, deeply moving films about ordinary people, but in this case his personal anger prevails.

The film shows the uphill struggle of Daniel Blake, a carpenter with heart problems, to get the health benefit he's entitled to, but doesn't receive. He gets lost in a bureaucratic maze of incomprehensible regulations and hostile staff members. What makes it even worse, is his inability to work with computers. Now that in large organizations human contact is being replaced by online procedures, that turns out to be a major problem.

These kinds of difficulties are real and very troubling for many people. And Loach is right in bringing them up. I myself have experienced similarly maddening procedures. The tendency to move interactions with government institutions almost entirely to the internet, is causing huge problems for thousands of people.

But in his urge to show how disrespectful government institutions treat ordinary citizens, Loach is overdoing it. Daniel Blake and his neighbour, unemployed single mother Katie, are so miserable that it is no longer believable. Every imaginable misfortune is happening to them. In the end it becomes pathetic.

And that is a pity, because it is undermining the power of the film. It is a bit like a James Bond movie: Bond can narrowly escape death once or twice, but when this happens fifteen times it's not serious anymore. The same goes for the misfortunes of Daniel Blake. The point is that a James Bond film is not meant to be serious. But I'm afraid a Ken Loach film is.
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4/10
Desperately in need of subtlety and depth
steerpike_20022 November 2016
I remember when Ken Loach used to make films rich in symbolism which featured characters capable of moral ambiguity living thoughtfully crafted stories on the screen. Those were the days.

Unfortunately, in the already gargantuanly over-rated "I, Daniel Blake" we are treated to none of these things. With this film, Loach's desire to beat his message into viewers' heads has trumped all other considerations relating to the quality of the viewing experience.

The story revolves around the struggles of 59 year old Daniel Blake, a skilled workman recovering from poor health, as he attempts to claim benefits from the state. Along the way he befriends and helps single mother of two Katie, who is barely holding her family together in a new city.

The message that the director seems to want so very much for us all to understand is that the benefits system in Britain is designed, quite purposefully it would appear, to grind down those unfortunate enough to come across it. There's little room here even to consider that the system may be well-meaning but intrinsically flawed, so extreme is the position taken.

This wouldn't be such a problem if the film possessed other cinematic qualities, but these are in short supply as well.

Just like in real life, characters in the film can all be very easily separated into good, honest folk or nasty, hate-filled jobsworths. Loach's view seems to be that people who work with their hands must be alright, but heaven help you if you hang a tie around your neck and work with paper, or (cross yourselves) a computer - then you're probably the sort that would push your own grandma into the gutter if there was a quid in it for you.

The plot is very hastily pasted together, with very little regard to allowing the story to unfold satisfyingly or intelligently. Key moments in the plot just follow flatly one after the other as if story-boarding was ignored altogether. The script shows a similar need for attention, characters delivering narration-like dialogue as if they were reading aloud the notes in the script margin rather than the lines themselves. It also falls into near-embarrassing clichés like the emotionally-mature child-philosopher part that also smacks of lazy writing.

There are redeeming features. The cast, particularly Dave Johns in the lead role, give satisfying performances. Johns's lighter moments in the film are particularly well-delivered and the film is genuinely funny at times. But these flourishes don't make up for a very lazy film, both conceptually and in execution.
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7/10
Good, if a little unbalanced.
sforrester-316 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I, Daniel Blake is a gritty drama which lets the viewer experience the frustrations of dealing with the British welfare system. Having had personal experience of the system in the past, the portrayal is very accurate and dealing with it can be a stressful, hair pulling out experience. I did, however, feel that there wasn't a great deal of balance to this film. Some people do take advantage of the system and not every working class person is a salt of the earth, do anything for you type. The ending also grated on me a bit - *****MAJOR SPOILER****** - for me, it would have been better if he had just won his appeal (as happens in the majority of cases) and the speech at the funeral just didn't feel realistic. Sometimes it just felt a bit too contrived, for example the food bank scene. You'd maybe tuck into a bit of fruit or a biscuit, not pour baked beans into your hand. There were other minor niggles like Katie's daughter being a bit posh or Daniel running the mouse up and down the computer screen. We already got that he wasn't internet savvy so making him out to be a complete idiot spoiled otherwise good scenes. I can't help feel that if they hadn't tried to over egg the pudding on a number of occasions, this would have been a much more powerful commentary on the welfare system. To me, it felt like when someone has a really valid point but spoils it by over dramatising. On the plus side, as I said, the actual portrayal of the system was accurate (I also grew to hate that music on the phone) and it was easy to be sympathetic to the character of Daniel. All in all, worth a watch.
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