I, Daniel Blake


Action / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 88%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 35884


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February 23, 2017 at 03:45 AM



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1hr 40 min
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1hr 40 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by proud_luddite 7 / 10

A fine film about the underclass

In Newcastle, England, the title character (played by Dave Johns) is a widowed carpenter in his late fifties who is on the mend from a heart attack. In trying to get benefits for time off work (as recommended by his doctor), he gets stuck in a quagmire of bureaucracy. During one bad visit at a government office, he befriends Katie (Hayley Squires), an unemployed, single mother of two young children who has also been mistreated by government workers.

"I, Daniel Blake" is another courageous film by the team of director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty that focuses, in a realistic way, on the downtrodden who are too often ignored. While this is praiseworthy, the downturn is that the overall effect can be depressing and frustrating. While the last half hour was moving in a different direction, a final plot twist thwarted this - therefore preventing the story from adding more richness to its depth.

Johns and Squires are terrific in their performances as two society-rejects trying to get by and helping each other out when they can. Despite their hardships, they continue to maintain as much of their humanity as they can. Johns' appeal goes further in scenes when Daniel pokes fun at humourless nincompoops on power trips.

The film has some telling (and harsh) statements of modern society and bureaucracy. There is a very noticeable contrast in how kindly the poor are treated at a food bank (run by volunteers) vs. the despicable way they are treated by government departments (run by taxpayer-funded employees). The movie has been criticized for its depiction of government employees. Among this group, there is one such character who seems to stand out as she has more soul and humanity than her peers. The film might have achieved greater depth if it had delved more into her personal story.

In any case, this movie is likely to be understood by anyone has ever experienced hard times; anyone who has ever felt empathy for anyone who has experienced hard times; or anyone has ever experienced an overwhelming desire to throttle someone who is an insensitive, incompetent, arrogant, ignorant, overpaid, bureaucratic miscreant.

Reviewed by Bryan Kluger 9 / 10

I, Daniel Blake is a fantastic film that flows well with some truly solid performances.

For more than 50 years, Ken Loach (KES) has been making films that cause us to think about our current political and social climates, no matter what race your are or where you come from, because a lot of us suffer from the same overall issues, whether it be medically, financially, or a corrupt government. Loach has never been shy to show any of these topics in his films over the years as well as in real life interviews. If you've ever attended a screening a film festival or movie where Loach is the director behind the movie, you will immediately know what you're in for, which is usually a story of someone being beat by the system, despite all of the honest and good things they do. His film I, Daniel Blake is no different, which isn't a bad thing.

It's won a ton of awards and even won the Palme d'Or award at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The movie follows a fifty-something man named Daniel Blake who is a skilled carpenter, but is out of work due to having a heart attack. After his recovery, his doctors say he is not ready to go back to work yet, but the job assessment people say otherwise. This puts Daniel in a bad situation as employers won't hire him, because his doctors say he's unfit, but others have checked him as cleared, which leads to Daniel not getting a job and zero government assistance due to a clerical error.

As he tries to fix this situation, Loach shows us the frustrating and sometimes funny series of events in trying to fix a bureaucratic mishap by being put on hold for hours on end or someone who is up there in years, trying to work a computer. After the few laughs, it really hits home as the underlying message is that we now live in a time where people are not cared for or listened to, but rather treated as cattle with no purpose. It's a system designed to leave behind the less than fortunate, but honest people. Along the way though, Daniel meets a nice woman named Katie, who has moved from here home with her kids, but is not in a good situation financially or even job-wise.

Still, she does what it takes to feed her kids, even if it means she starves for days on end or has to take on other forms of employment that might be illegal. It's here that we see that despite the rough situations that both Daniel and Katie are in, they are still good human beings and help each other out when they can, because the system certainly won't. As with most Loach films, things aren't exactly happy and good feelings. What he does well here is show very realistic characters in very subtle ways with their actions and dialogue.

I, Daniel Blake is a fantastic film that flows well with some truly solid performances. It not only shows certain aspects of everyday life perfectly, but also makes them relevant an connects us to one another. There are moments where things can be a bit preachy and could wander into cliche territory, but it doesn't kill the film, due to the simplistic nature and heart warming characters that are on screen. No matter how much social or political is thrown out here, the film is still a great work of art.

Reviewed by pageyjjj 6 / 10

Mr. Bean meets Charlie Chaplin

This dark comedy's Daniel Blake plays the fool lost in the socialist world of the present day U.K.. Of limited intellect but a good heart, Daniel navigates the intricacies of the nanny state with little success. Ken Loach presents visible minorities as the entrepreneurial answer to an otherwise dystopian future. Will you be rolling in the aisles? Only if you can laugh at stereotypes presented by this auteur.

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