Sunday, 6 November 2016

I, Daniel Blake - the brutal reality

I was warned that I would not feel happy as I left the cinema having watched 'I, Daniel Blake'. However, on a day that I received another message of 'your application has been unsuccessful', I departed feeling rather fortunate that, although i didn't get the job, at least I have my health and am not supporting a family.

'I, Daniel Blake' is British filmmaker Ken Loach's latest film, which won the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Set in Newcastle, the film follows Daniel Blake, a 59 year old joiner who, after suffering from a heart attack, is told by his doctor that he should not go back to work. As he is capable of many of the tasks specified on the form for “Employment and Support Allowance”, (putting on his own jumper, for example), he does not meet the requirements to receive “Employment and Support Allowance” and he is told to apply for Jobseekers Allowance, the fund for people ready and able to work. In order to get this, Daniel has to prove that he is actively looking for work.

On one of his visits to the JobCentre he meets a single mother Katie and her two children, Dylan and Daisy, who are also struggling with poverty. I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, but the film follows the friendship between Daniel, Katie and the kids as they help each other maintain some sort of existence on a shoestring.

It saddens me deeply that this film is so true to life. Nothing is glorified or exaggerated. There is no need for obvert violence or gore, the truth of the situation is scary enough. People like you and I are experiencing this right now. That is scary. The scene in the food bank provides a startling incite into the extent to which mothers will go to in order to care for their children.

Amidst the doom and gloom there are numerous laugh out loud moments, and some characters that remind you that there genuinely care and have their eyes open to the situation that Daniel and Katie are in.

I urge you to see this film. It is rare to experience a standing ovation from the audience at the cinema, yet this is what happened at the end of the film. I was delighted to hear that the cinema had to put on extra showings in order to cater for the overwhelming demand. In times of austerity, it pleases me that people have been able to watch what should go down as one of the best films of 2016.

I just hope that the politicians see it and open their eyes to what is on our doorstep. AND TAKE ACTION.

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