I Daniel Blake

LetterboxD review link

I love Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley but haven’t seen any other films by him. A couple of years ago I, Daniel Blake made quiet a splash on the festival circuit, including the NY Film Festival where I missed a chance to see it. I caught up with it recently as it became available online for US audiences.

The bleak view of bureaucracy shown in this film (heartless, soulless, sans empathy), almost inadvertently, felt like an admonition of the liberal world view. Loach may have placed an accidental arrow in the quiiver of conservatism. I could, easily, see a conservative viewer seeing all the ways in which the state failed Daniel and Katie and claiming that a state will never be equipped to take care of people. At least never in the way community organizations or personal relations can. That, of course, is well and good, except for the systematic ways in which people are left outside those community networks. But anyway, this is not the place to dissect these forces. Just something I found interesting while watching the film.

It’s also hard not to read this film in the context of recent world events like Brexit and the election of Trump. Technological and social change, failing social safety nets, the push back of boomers against a changing world that hasn’t slowed down enough for them to catch up are all part of the fabric of this film.

This review makes the film sound didactic or full of moralism, and it is to a certain extent, but it still stands strongly as a well-told story, with developed characters, and a strong emotional core.