I, Daniel Blake
A review by screening sponsor David Milne at Invest SouthWest www.investsouthwest.co.uk
“It made me realise that cinema could be about ordinary people and their dilemmas. It wasn’t a film about stars, or riches or absurd adventures”
Ken Loach on watching “The Bicycle Thieves”
Having been mourning for some time Ken Loach’s “retirement” after 2014’s Jimmy’s Hall I was cheered to hear he was returning to direct again at the ripe age of eighty. I along with many others keenly awaited this new release. Loach, once more has not disappointed.
Having first seen Kes as a young boy growing up in the seventies I was struck by the stark, grim reality of lives played out by ordinary people desperately trying to make their way in life against seemingly insurmountable odds but with a glimmer of humour and the odd lighter moment.
These themes continued to run strong through Loach’s finest work. Always a refreshing change from the bland lifeless characters and films awash with CGI that Hollywood fed us. Ken would always grapple the most challenging of subjects and as I viewer I was always moved, entertained and at times almost traumatised by some of the more harrowing scenes. 1994’s Ladybird Ladybird still has me welling up tears at the thought of it.
So this latest release is true Ken Loach, championing the downtrodden, fighting the corner for those unfortunate enough to be entangled in a bewildering and unjust system which has left them abandoned.
As always the actors are top drawer, the film is blessed with exceptional lead performances from Dave Johns and Hayley Squires (you may recognise her from Sunday night BBC1’s Call the Midwife).
The pair fight their own personal battles against a dehumanising system. The scene which shows Katie on the point of exhaustion in a food bank grasping a tin of beans is heart breaking, only those with a heart of stone would fail to be moved. It’s something to remember next time we are wheeling our trolley along the supermarket aisles.
Both are doing all they can to make the best of a bleak situation, retaining their hope and dignity in the face of insurmountable odds.
It is another great piece of work from the veteran director and a deserved winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes film festival.