We often see the blockbuster films for entertainment, but films can often inspire and deliver a message, this week’s rental, I, Daniel Blake from director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty certainly falls into that category.
The story is frightening and you would hope a work of fiction, yet since the film was released many have shared similar experiences.
Widower Daniel Blake (an outstanding performance by Dave Johns, best known as a stand-up comedian, rather than an actor) is a joiner, living in Newcastle, who has had a heart attack at work.
He is told by his doctors he should not return to work, yet after a phone interview to do a work capability assessment, he is incredibly deemed fit to work and denied Employment and Support Allowance.
He then tries to compensate by claiming JobSeekers Allowance, and at the Jobcentre, he meets single mum of 2, Katie (Hayley Squires)
She was living in London but has been relocated to a home in Newcastle as the only available place the housing benefits people can offer her. In her struggle to find her way in a new city, she is minutes late for her jobcentre appointment and is sanctioned.
Daniel then takes her home and learns they have no money, and the house needs work, which he helps with to keep him occupied, whilst awaiting an appeal decision to get his ESA allowance.
The story of Daniel and Katie is one that we read about so often and it is up to you what opinion you have on the government as to what they could do to help more.
This film will at the very least get you thinking about it, Katie’s story is possibly the more heartbreaking of the two, we learn how her 2 children are away from all that they know; we learn her daughter is bullied for having worn out shoes and a scene in a food collection bank will move even the coldest of hearts.
Daniel’s story is possibly not as moving, simply as it is should be laughable, how can just 1 brief phone interview be able to override a decision that a qualified medical person has made? But under no circumstance is this story any less powerful!
We also see the struggles Daniel has with the system, not taking into account the computer literacy of elder job seekers, he struggles with completing a CV, he is questioned for not going for enough jobs, which he needs to do to claim a JSA yet even when offered a job, he can’t take it on medical grounds.
This is not a happy film, but it is strong and powerful, it can also make you reflect on your own position when you see how desperate these people are for thinks like electricity, things that perhaps we take for granted.
All the performances are exceptional and worthy of the various awards they have won, but you have to remember this is just a film and the real challenge is how much good the film can do to those decision makers, portrayed as the bad guys, we hope they are just misunderstood and genuine practices are in place to make sure this is never a reality.
We urge all to see the film, you’ll probably want to consider a donation to a food bank or want to support a charity, we certainly visit them enough looking for old films, but we’ll be sure to donate some back. Above all, we hope it makes you reflect on decisions made in government and possibly encourage you to use a vote when perhaps you had not done in the past.
You can find the film trailer at its website here:
You can rent the film at Amazon here:
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