In Review: I, Daniel Blake may be Ken Loach's greatest film so far ...

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Director: Ken Loach. 100mins (15)

Rating: 4/5 Very good lots to enjoy


Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a middle-aged widower and a skilled carpenter by trade living in the North East of England. After suffering a serious heart attack at work, he finds himself on temporary disability benefits until his doctor and physiotherapist agree he is fit to work again.

The Department for Work and Pensions have a different take on this and, after a disability assessment which Blake answers honestly, he is categorised as able to return to work, despite the threat to his health. Blake finds himself swept up in the labyrinth of officialdom and bureaucracy as he tries to survive.

Swept along with him is Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother from London who is moved by her local authority to the North with her two children, finding herself adrift with no support network apart from the kindly Daniel.

Review by Jason Day

It's difficult trying to like Ken Loach films when all you want from cinema is fabricated beauty, sweeping and epic narratives and witty, effusive dialogue.

I tried many years before but, alas, his previous work slapped the then 20 year old University me down into my seat, to settle back comfortably and snore through one of the dullest film topics on the syllabus.

But I've given him another shot with this highly publicised and very topical 'existence on modern benefits', slice-of-life drama.

It's full of the sort of rampant misery-mongering you would expect from Loach, but the storyline tugs at the heart and there are some very raw and emotional scenes.

It has to be said, the man hasn't lost his power to provoke, shock and ask questions. This may be his greatest film and, judging by the turn out at the screening I attended last night (ironically) it might be is most profitable.

Johns and Squires give commendably natural, warm and funny performances in a film that, this Hallowe'en, shines a light on some of the less well known horrors in present day Britain.

For more about how this film helped re-form my opinion of a film legend, see the full review:

Cast & credits

BBC/BFI/Les Films du Fleuve/Sixteen Films/Why Not Productions/Wild Bunch. (15)
Producer: Rebecca O'Brien.
Writer: Paul Laverty.
Camera: Robbie Ryan.
Music: George Fenton.
Sets: Fergus Clegg, Linda Wilson.
Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Natalie Anne Jamieson, Mark Burns, Colin Coombs, Harriet Ghost.

Pics: Wild Bunch Films