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I, Daniel Blake


Stars: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Dylan McKiernan, Briana Shann, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe

Director: Ken Loach

It takes a filmmaker with authentic talent to make you forget that you are watching a fictional story and fill you with genuine anger, revulsion and sadness brought on by what you are seeing.

Here, perfectly complemented by his regular scenarist Paul Laverty’s searing screenplay and a picture-and performance-perfect cast, Loach delivers a vivid, heartbreaking and all-too-credible expose of unsympathetic welfare bureaucracy in present-day Britain.

Dave Johns is realistically moving as the eponymous 59-year-old joiner who, having worked hard all his life and nursed his dying wife, suffers a heart attack.

His doctor tells him he is unfit for work. A bureaucratic by- the-book local job centre assessor (“I’m a healthcare professional") thinks otherwise. And Johns is refused State Aid and instructed to find work or face the “Decision Maker”, apparently a fate worse than death.

Loach’s increasingly anger-rousing storytelling, set against well-used, well-shot (by cinematographer Robbie Ryan) Newcastle Upon Tyne locations tells his story with maximum impact.

Loach’s masterwork is emotionally tough to watch but it needs to be seen by anyone and everyone with a conscience.

Alan Frank

UK/France/Belgium 2016. UK Distributor: entertainmentOne . Colour.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 03 Mar 2017

DVD review