After the romance of the Wild West in January our February choice ‘I Daniel Blake’ brought us sharply down to earth. Released in 2016 this film is the latest work of the unashamedly political director Ken Loach, who is probably best remembered for his 1970’s films ‘Kes” and ‘Cathy Come Home’. Like those this is a movie that deals with the underprivileged areas of society and conveys a hard-hitting criticism of the Welfare State and the impersonal and uncaring depths to which it now have seems to
After having suffered a heart attack a fifty one year old carpenter must fight the bureaucratic forces of the system in order to receive employment and support allowances. The film unfolds in a plain, straightforward style and uses actors who are little known or completely new to film work. The results are a film that rings true throughout, and is frequently shocking to watch but nonetheless manages to achieve moments that are heart-warming and genuinely funny.
I felt it was a measure of Ken Loach’s success (the film has been heaped with awards and critical praise) that it sparked so much honest discussion among the group afterwards as members relived their own memories of such problems as unemployment and wrestling with the benefits system. I think the director and cast would have been well satisfied !
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