I, Daniel Blake (1h 40m) is not an easy watch – but it is an important one. This is a film that everyone must see.
For fifty years Ken Loach has made brave, challenging and, at times, derided films. Beginning with Cathy Come Home in 1966 he has consistently shone a light on social issues; homelessness, inequality, injustice and poverty. Now, at 80, he has made what might be his final film, I, Daniel Blake, and what a film it is.
On one level the story of an everyman battling a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, Loach’s film is an excoriating critique of the English benefits system and a culture which paints those in need as ‘shirkers’.
A carpenter by trade, with a lifetime of work behind him, widower Daniel (Dave Johns) suffers a heart attack. Judged unfit for work by his doctor, when he tries to get the benefits he is due he comes up against the full box-ticking might of the Department for Work and Pensions and so his nightmare begins.
With this simple, dignified film, Ken Loach has created a tragedy for our times - the real tragedy of course is that, fifty years after he began making films, we still need his honesty, compassion and anger.
Powerful, honest and at times unbearably moving, I, Daniel Blake is not an easy watch – but it is an important one. This is a film that everyone must see.