Wednesday, 2 November 2016

I, Daniel Blake

I heard about this movie only a week ago. Friends on Twitter were posting links to the trailer with captions along the lines of: “Who is going to take Theresa May to see this then?” My lecturer had also made a couple of references to it in his seminar, highly recommending it.

The premise of the film appears simple: a bloke in Newcastle has suffered a heart attack and is looking to seek the appropriate benefits from the Jobcentre since he can't work— but is denied the allowances he needs.

Before I booked tickets for the film, I typed it into Google and found a clip of the BBC’s Mark Kermode talk about the film with a rare positive passion he reserves only for remarkable pictures. I also discovered the plethora of awards it had received/been nominated for over summer.

The cinema was packed. I sat between a father who had come with his son and a women who obnoxiously ate fruit continuously throughout the entire film. After an age of adverts, the film began.

Every now and again the screen would erupt in laughter however it was too real for me to find amusing. There was a moment where the hypocrisy of the bureaucratic benefits appeal system is so ludicrous, many found the irony entertaining. However the fact that it was a truth being exposed removed all sense of humour for me.

I felt the same about the scene where Daniel Blake is using a computer for the first time and he literally runs the mouse up the monitor. Where others in the cinema found humour, I was struck by how the difficult the system makes it for people born in an older generation but who are in need.

I, Daniel Blake is a masterpiece entrenched in the dejecting truth of the failures in the welfare system. It has a geniality to it though. Daniel Blake is a warm, optimistic, funny character (which may be down to Dave Johns’ background in stand-up comedy).

I’d recommend everyone to watch this film — not for the entertainment value but rather to be enlightened about what some people, out of no fault of their own, need to suffer because of flaws in the state.