I, Daniel Blake full movie review - No matter how you end up feeling by the end (be it, positive or negative) it is surely going to surely going to spark some opinionated reaction out of you
I, Daniel Blake is the latest of efforts by a, by now legendary, Ken Loach, whose films often tackle the problems of small working class people and their place in society.
In that respect, this film may seem like any other of his films but what separates each and every one of his movies is that it is always a character that is put in in real life environment and the way that he 'gets around' and deals with his problems is not only the substance of most of his movies but is what separates each and every one of them from the other. In short, he is trying to be as natural and you can get... When he is not working like that you get movies like "Jimmy's Hall" (2014) that feel like made for TV type of movie that is ranging from good to passable but certainly nothing special... it feels fake... Luckily, "I, Daniel Blake" is a return to form of sorts, which i a great thing.
Story follows main protagonist Daniel who is a carpenter by profession, who after suffering from a heart attack tries to get a welfare benefit since he is unable to work... He gets denied such right and is instead told to go and look for a job since their health-care professional deduced that he is fit to work. Daniel, of course, will not take this lightly and will appeal to this every step of the way while in 60's hunting for a job, all this will make him experience first hand just how British department for work and pension is screw'd up really. Also along the way he befriends Katie, a young single mom with, two kids, who feels as lost as Daniel in the absurdity of British DWP. Together they try to fight their way against the system and more simply put... survive.
The thing about the main conflict of this film, and why it struck such a core with so many people is that you can pretty much say for every country out there really, but it's mainly western world problems here, and it's that there are more unemployed people out there tan jobs to employ those people. But instead of trying your best to help those people out, government seems to make unemployment more of a problem then it by itself is. System was supposed to be designed to help people not get stuck on a bureau for the entirety of their lifetime without any money. In reality what happens is that by implementing technology, you removed humanity form it all and it becomes inhuman... those people working there are like robots who first put their assignments as a priority and being a decent human being is second to that. There is no ethics involved. The worst thing is, is that some has the guts to decide what kind of poverty deserves a state help and what kind of pore people can make it on their own, what kind of sick people receive allowances and who doesn't... what is real difference between person that got 13 and 15 points on WCA... difference isn't in their health, they're both sick and not capable of work, only difference is that one is gonna cut it for the support allowance, and the other is gonna have to hunt for jobs. People playing gods is what that is, and is completely unethical. You can say that a film also has a bit of irony with that approach, so many people out there are unemployed and in the employment office computers are set up so they can cut on staff and thus creating less jobs... Also it's kind of sad and funny at the same time that when Daniel visits resume writing seminar, they tell them that they have to stand out from the crowd... and in audiences you see a huge crowd of people and you can't but not think, if everyone is trying to stand out, is there someone standing out then when they're all doing it? They can't all stand out, especially if they are being processed either by computers or people that work like ones. These and all other ethical issues film glances over, by having two protagonist that both can't get grasp of this situation... Daniel, being that he is too old, doesn't know how this new system works and finds it insulting while Katie is an uneducated young girl with two kids who just wants one chance but society doesn't give her even that.
Opinions are not forced upon us, nor do they try to make us feel for these people more strongly then we already do... If this kind of story was done in the US, it would certainly be way more melodramatic but instead what we got is a more naturalistic approach. Characters and their real life environments and how do they interact in that environment. That for me was good enough, but by the end i can't really tell you how i felt. When story reaches it's climax by the end people said that they were in tears but it didn't struck such an emotional core with me. The whole film didn't feel like it had some sort of and arc but was kind of like a small slice of life, which is great but i didn't reach catharsis. It didn't hit me hard like so many people but i can't say that i didn't like it... it left me kind of ambivalent. Movie doesn't tell you what to feel, it may make you cry, it may make you bored, or angry... but one thing that is for certain is that main question of ethics will be in your mind while after you finished watching this film and is certainly a film that sparks more debates and conversations... and if that's not good cinema, i don't know what is.