Tuesday, June 13, 2017

[Review] I, Daniel Blake

Acclaimed British director Ken Loach's latest film I, Daniel Blake is a profound character portrait that puts humanity first amidst harsh economic times.

Meet the titular character Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), a cranky yet sympathetic man who's just doing his best in dealing with the crap that life has thrown at him: His wife has recently passed away, he has a heart-attack at work, he loses his job, and because of a mix-up is denied unemployment. And to top it off, he sometimes has to put up with the literal crap that his neighbor's dog leaves in the yard. We follow Daniel as he goes through the frustrating appeal process for his benefits.

I know it doesn't sound like the most exciting plot for a movie (far from it actually), but thanks to the rich details, the tremendous central performance from Dave Johns, and the genuinely compassionate script, I, Daniel Blake is a commendable effort on many fronts. It's sad. It's comical. It's heartfelt. It's tragic. It's real--just like the story's well-wrought, resilient gruff of a main character. He's a working class underdog. A relatable every-person battling against a system that has pushed him aside. A big-hearted helper, especially as he becomes a supportive grandpa-like figure to a young single mother named Katie (played greatly by Hayley Squires) and her two children.

Perhaps the closing of his Daniel Blake's appeal letter says it best:

"My name is Daniel Blake. I am a man, not a dog. As such, I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect. I, Daniel Blake am a citizen. Nothing more, and nothing less."

That's Daniel Blake.

( 8/10 )

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