I, Daniel Blake Film Review
The character Daniel Blake in the film.
How the system can lead to utter frustration.
When I first heard about the film I, Daniel Blake, it interested me. Having been in his situation in the past, I thought perhaps there were parts of the film I could relate to, so I went to watch this at the cinema one evening, and glad I did.
- Released: 2016
- Running time: 100 minutes
- Genre: Drama
- Director: Ken Loach
- Producer: Rebecca O'Brien
- Distributed by: eOne Films
- Dave Jones - Daniel Blake
- Hayley Squires - Katie
- Sharon Percy - Shiela
59 year old Daniel Blake is a carpenter by trade. Due to having a heart attack, he loses his job. When his Cardiologist tells him he is unable to go back to work, he resigns to attending the Job Centre to apply for Benefits to help him whilst he is out of work. This film, although fictional, highlights the plight of the unemployed in Great Britain. With everything seemingly turning to online and the Internet, we see how this can be an obstacle for many people if they don't have a PC or have little experience in using one. From the most basic of tasks like applying for benefits and creating a Resumè, this can be the most difficult of things to do when you have little or no experience with Computers.
What we see is the process Daniel goes through with the Job Centre staff instructing him to do things what is in the agreement he signs when he first makes a claim. Certain things like applying for jobs on a daily basis, recording his job searching on the online portal, attending meetings and group sessions which the Job Centre send him to. All this can be very frustrating. And when you don't do what they tell you to, you get sanctioned. A sanction is when they have the ability to put a halt on any benefits you are in receipt of for up to 3 years. Now, Daniel does all he can to look for work. But with a hand written Resumè and little knowledge of how to use a computer, things start to get on top of him.
What we see is a struggle to make the 'system' and the powers that be to listen to him, and be heard. With all this going on, he befriends Katie, a single mother of two. We see the sheer desperation of how this young woman is trying to survive and bring up her two children, and resorting to using food banks so she can simply put food on the table. As Daniel and Katie form a close friendship, we see on the other side of the spectrum the good people that help when one is rock bottom.
This was an interesting and thought-provoking film. I have been unemployed and been in his situation, so I can relate to what is being said in the film. And, although I know a lot will disagree with what's being portrayed, I do believe what is being said. Having gone through the Job Centre process, I know how frustrating it can be. Thankfully I am computer literate and able to get online when I want. So life was a bit easier for me as 90% of my job searching was done on the Internet. It can be soul destroying and cringe worthy going through this, and you do have to do what they tell you. I know this is an emotive subject, and it's sparked debate on both sides of the fence. Thankfully I am in employment now, but I can sympathize with the character of Daniel Blake. I've seen it with my own eyes the utter misery and despair people have been in having to go through the system and trying to make ends meet on a daily basis.
I found the acting strong. Dave Jones who plays Daniel portrays the part of an unemployed, middle aged man well. The process of finding work and the rules and regulations can be a strain on anyone, and this film highlights the plight that everyday people in this situation are in. It can make you feel demoralized and leave you with low self-esteem. We see this in Katie's own life. This is definitely worth watching.