Directed by Ken Loach
Reviewed by Sue Hunter
By now, most people will know what this film is about, so I’m not going to talk about the plot. But I need to comment on remarks some people have made about it.
First, my own response to I, Daniel Blake. For me, this was an excellent film: moving, funny in parts, very true to life, and a call to righteous anger.
It’s been said, “O, it’s just about the deserving poor”. First of all, people on the Left, Socialists or whatever, do not recognise this false division between so-called “deserving and undeserving poor”.
Poverty is Poverty. Not only are these categories made up by the Victorians/ right wing media / Tories and co., they deprive and discriminate against the most “deserving” (as they would deem) citizens as well.
And this story is a vital, necessary antidote to all the daily lies and slanders against people on benefits in the Sun, Daily Mail etc. Not to mention the endless programmes on Channel 4, ranging from the “Benefits Street” series, to stuff like “On Benefits with 15 children” or “On Benefits with 3 large dogs/ Obesity/Drug addiction….” Take your pick.
Many well-meaning, caring people know nothing about the way Job Centres operate, or about Atos, then Capita and so on.
The main characters are not idealised or saints, and they meet and are friends with various ingenious hustlers and street survivors. So there’s nothing sanitised about this story.
Of course it’s fiction, but based on hundreds of true experiences, gained from months of talking to people who’ve been “sanctioned”. The use of this word really annoys me: it of course means your actual subsistence is taken away – no money, no food. But this is never explained in the press and some people don’t realise this. Plus Ken Loach and Paul Laverty the writer also talked to whistle blowers from Job Centre Plus who exposed the draconian instructions given to staff about how to treat claimants.
This film exposes the deliberate cruelty carried out by the government against the poor. It is a work of great humanity and compassion, showing how ordinary people help each other in hard times and troubles.
There will be a showing at the Philharmonic Hall on Wed 16th November.
Ken Loach arranged with the distributors for free showings of the film at community venues on request.