I, Daniel Blake (2016) – Ace Mini-Review

I, Daniel Blake
Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires
Written by: Paul Laverty
Directed by: Ken Loach
Belgium/France/U.K., 2016

How good is this movie?

A simple and moving film about the frustration and indignity of life on social assistance – a common enough experience that rarely gets dramatised. Its protagonists are honest, hard-working people trying to live their lives but continually brought down by the kind of bureaucracy I’ve seen at work and even participated in myself. Although the story is tragic, its most moving moments are actually the acts of everyday human decency shown to the characters, acts made all the more powerful by the bleakness of their situation. It is clear the film is not cynical about human nature; it’s the system that’s the problem, not the people.

How ace is this movie?

Although Daniel was married and Katie has two children, there is no romance in the film, and the only implied sex comes when Katie unwillingly resorts to prostitution. The friendship between Daniel and Katie’s family remains purely platonic, but it is clear that there is also deep caring on both sides. Daniel cannot fix all of the family’s problems, but he does what he can for them, and they do the same for him.

3.5 Stars; 3 Aces

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