Director: Ken Loach, Laura Obiols
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Main Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe
Plot: After sustaining a heart injury, Daniel finds himself needing to claim welfare benefits. When the time comes for his re-assessment, he winds up stuck in the impossible loop of being too ill to work but the state has declared him fit. Whilst fighting his case he meets Katie, a young mother with struggles of her own.
My Thoughts: Back when I, Daniel Blake was released, an advert for it was played on the radio at work what felt like every 20 minutes, to the point where I was sick of hearing about it. The movie didn’t seem to have gained much attention outside of the UK (other than it’s festival debut) but it was super popular here, even winning a BAFTA. We have so many crap reality shows about the benefits system I avoided the movie until now, but curiosity as always got the better of me.
Oh boy, this movie made me so mad and sad. Yes, there are thousands out there scamming the benefits system, but there are also many who are falling through the cracks, being ignored and suffering so badly as a result. The system is so, so wrong. Although Daniel is the main character here, it was Katie who had all of my attention. There’s a scene where she turns to the food bank for help and has a breakdown because she’s literally starving, and it broke my heart.
This absolutely wasn’t the movie I thought it would be, and I can see why it garnered so much attention now. The only thing is, it’s bleak and upsetting and absolutely not what you’d stick on the TV to watch on a Saturday night with a takeaway! However, if you ever find yourself wanting to find out more about the UK’s benefits system, I highly, highly recommend you watch I, Daniel Blake rather than the rubbish TV shows out there.
Best Bit: The scenes that take place at the Job Centre were hard for me to watch, they made me so mad, but seeing that one lady go out of her way and even getting into trouble with her supervisor just for trying to help Daniel restored a little bit of my faith in the world.
Worst Bit: When Katie paid for her groceries at the corner shop but got caught shoplifting sanitary products, it broke me. It’s hard to even realise that there are women out there who can’t afford the ‘luxury’ of sanitary products, and I’ve made a vow to donate a pack every time I go food shopping now.
Fun Trivia: The woman helping Hayley Squires’ character, Katie, in the much-discussed food bank scene was not an actor – she worked in the food bank and was not told what was going to happen in the scene.
My Rating: 4 and a half receipts out of 5. What are the receipts for, you ask? Well, after you’ve spent all day giving out your CV to prospective employers, the Job Centre will ask for proof – and may even ask if you were given a receipt for your CV. Are these people for real?!