I, Daniel Blake

Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

If you’ve ever dealt with bureaucratic red tape – even if that merely means a simple trip to the DMV – then you’ll relate to the title character in the truly moving British drama I, Daniel Blake.

Poster for the new Ken Loach drama I, Daniel BlakeA carpenter by trade, middle-aged Daniel (Dave Johns) has been unable to work after suffering a heart attack on the job. He is relying on government benefits to survive, but he finds it’s far more difficult to get them than it should be. As he’s evaluated by a social worker, we get a sense of frustration and his cynical wit and how angry he is about not being able to work.

Daniel is also one of those people who doesn’t own and has never used a computer, so when he learns how much he has to do online to get his benefits, it becomes even more frustrating for him.

At the benefits office, he meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a young single mother with two kids being treated just as shabbily. The two of them bond and help each other through their respective situations.

Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach is a master at capturing the day-to-day of British life, and this film, which won the coveted Palme D’Or award at Cannes, is no exception.

It’s heartbreaking at times to watch Blake’s plight, but things get even more desperate for Katie, who is starving herself to make sure her kids eat. Guided by Loach, the actors have created two such likeable characters that you’re constantly invested in their attempts to deal with a convoluted system.

In a world that seems to be getting worse with every passing minute, I, Daniel Blake, is a sobering but inspiring pleasure – easily one of the best films of the year.

– Edward Douglas, The New York Daily News

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