I, Daniel Blake (2016) Review
59 Year old Daniel Blake has recently had a serious heart attack and has been told by his Doctor that it is still not save for him to go back to work. He must then try to be at the right level on the benefits system which shows it has no heart at all. Meeting single mother Katie will give him hope as they both fight to survive.
The story in this film is heartwarming and heartbreaking all rolled into one and sometimes both of those things together. It is haunting and sends some serious yet important messages along with that. Set in Newcastle Upon Tyne, North East England for those unaware. That alone was going to make this one feel even more real for myself considering I live just down the road in South Shields so it was therefore even scary.
Daniel Blake is a fantastic character as he comes across as a lovely man who is just well being messed around by the system and people not actually being helpful but supposedly doing their jobs. It is infuriating to watch at times and you cannot help but be on Daniel’s side. He hasn’t actually done anything wrong at all. The film does not paint Job Centre’s in a very good light and rightly so as we hear some terrible things about the staff being horrible to people. I will also add that yes some people don’t help themselves, but what about those genuine people who are just struggling to find work? Certain staff members aren’t willing to help. That is exactly what happens in this film, well expect for Ann. Very important that at least one character had to care and show well a soul really. It also makes great points about how difficult it can be for people over a certain age to even get the correct forms filled in with everything mainly being online now, something myself included in a younger generation would never really think about.
This is where Daniel meets Katie a single mother who had to move from London in order to actually get a flat. With her two children Daisy and Dylan a bond is formed between the pair. Nothing romantic or anything of the sort, just a wonderful friendship at a time they both needed just that. Daniel is brilliant helping out with the kids and we get some truly difficult scenes as they must visit a food bank and really struggle to survive. She is a good mother as doing the best she can given the circumstances.
Some moments in the film (the ending included) begin to look obvious but you just hope it is not going to be as bad as you fear. This is not a happy Hollywood film though, please remember that in preparing for the worst possible scenarios. I honestly did not want to be right with any of my thoughts/guesses for what was going to come next. It knocks you from pillar to post after having a nice or light hearted moment. I think that is something that makes it well brilliant.
It isn’t an easy film to watch at all, as I mentioned earlier it just feels too real. I don’t like too real when watching a film, as I use them as escape from reality. No escaping the reality on screen, but it is massively important. Highlighting that poverty within England is a very real struggle and challenge for many people and families. Some cheated by the “system” or just not helped in the right way. The worst thing is you may not actually be sure if people you know and love are actually very close to these situations.
I am very pleased to have caught this film and I know it is going to stay with me for a very long time. I will admit that it is great to hear the Geordie accent in a film and some scenes from around the city. Although I am sure I spotted a very tiny moment that had to have been filmed in London?
It has plenty of the Geordie sayings and humour mixed in more to begin with but it was lovely to see. Incredible performances from David Johns, surely he should get at least a BAFTA nomination for this! Haley Squires was very impressive as well, both working very well alongside one another.
If you can catch it I really do recommend that you watch this film. It really has so many important messages, even when it decides to rip your heart out over and over again. Incredible.