Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake'

Watched it last night. Sat and stared aimlessly at a blank screen for a good hour afterwards and i’m not ashamed to say had a bit of a cry. Didn’t think film could do that to me, tbh. The abruptness of the ending absolutely did me.

Can’t work out if i was just being a bit silly and over-emotional or not, but my gut feeling was that it’s an extremely important piece of cinema and quite probably Loach’s defining work.

Moreover, it feels like a bit of a call to arms in a weird way. Feel a bit uneasy about how passive i am about issues, and how little i help people less fortunate, and feel kind of selfish for wasting so much money on pointless shit.

Anyway, i’m waffling. Just wondered what people thought of it. Particularly interested in hearing from anyone who didn’t like it or felt completely unmoved by it, etc.


That foodbank scene is one of the most quietly devastating things I’ve ever seen.


I liked it, but like the other Ken Loach films I’ve seen it was a nuance-free affair in which all working class people are inherently good and anyone in any position of authority is irredeemable scum, and as such I think it’s unlikely to change anyone’s minds on the subject.


Saw it at the cinema and the mood in the venue after the film was so heavy. Agree it’s a great piece of work and needed to be made desperately. I signed on briefly (2 months) last year after taking voluntary severance whilst looking for work and the hoops the Job Centre Plus put you through are so set up to make one fail it’s just truly desperate. Even as a compliant ‘customer’ it was suggested to me to look at mental health courses to help me, signing on times changed every time one attends, training courses which when attended actually have no content just a register. A lot of respect for the film and it ends the only way it could really which is the only flaw I can muster.

^^^ Nailed it

It’s very moving, sure. But the tears are quite manipulative and, worse, when linked to the political this is somewhat problematic especially given the good/bad dichotomy. It’s terrifyingly free of nuance (sure, there’s that token kinda-nice lass who works at the job centre). There seems to be a strain of thought that you have to like it for its message where it hasn’t really been evaluated as a film. It’s no way near Loach’s best work for me (Looks and Smile, Kes, The Angel’s Share, Sweet Sixteen). Oh, and Hayley Squires was amazing in it.

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I was going to add something along the lines of evaluating the film itself clear of it’s moral central strand for want of a better term. I don’t think i can. I don’t know i rate the actors, or if it matters or not. If unlike me you have no trouble seperating the message of the film from the film itself then you’d probably have to say it’s not a great film, or even overly impressive, idk.

The performances are what give the film its power both as a political work but also for its artistic merit. This same story and subject matter in different hands would have been less stark, more overtly emotive and less worthwhile as a result.

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I don’t know if this is true actually. We could go through the primary and secondary characters in the film and find quite a fair number of examples to the contrary. Surely the point, or a point Loach is trying to make, more than people being good or bad is that the system’s bad, people within it adhere to it to varying degrees, people who aren’t…don’t.


I think you’re missing the point slightly if you think the positions of authority were unrealistic in some way. It’s portraying the silent struggle of millions of people faced by a bureaucracy that’s facilitating poverty for standard reasons of a Tory government. And frankly even if it wasn’t the experience was pretty much bang on for what I and I’d wager thousands more would’ve seen anyway - not necessarily scum, but certainly uncaring (and why wouldn’t they be).
As it is, yeah I was in bits in the cinema too. Saw it quite late though, about 8 of us at a 2pm showing or something. Was a very strange atmosphere. Could’ve made a real difference in a worthwhile society but it turns out the benefit scrounger narrative is far preferable for at least half of the nation of rainy facist island so just do what you can I suppose.


Have to say that having spent some time signing on some years ago i found lots of the scenes depressingly accurate. I can sort of understand why they’d want to put people off to some degree, but at times you’re barely treated like a human being.

I personally thought the single most accurate thing in the film was its portrayal of Job Centre staff.

In my experience they, almost without fail, have complete contempt for the people they should be there to help. I’m sure their job isn’t easy, they’ll have to deal with a range of people who bring all sorts of problems through the door, but if you’re completely incapable of showing empathy for people then do a different job. I found them to be bullies for the most part, from the overbearing floor staff to passive-aggressive jobsworths at the desks.

I only felt at all inclined to look for a job after stumbling across a member of staff who didn’t treat me like a fucking idiot and appreciated that sometimes people might need a metaphorical arm around the shoulder rather than a wagging finger in their face.


I was unemployed for a while last year, to be fair the staff I experienced at Partick Job Centre were actually pretty sound HOWEVER the system still definitely sucked AND I’m pretty sure I got quite lucky

The system (and I think this is the point Loach tries to make) either grinds you down into an arsehole or puts you out of a job fast. If you’re a compassionate & empathetic job centre worker there’s going to be a lot of internal conflict in your day to day


Who is this film really for though? If it’s for people who already agree with the message (which I imagine everyone in this thread does, as I imagine did the majority of the audience) and the portrayal of life on the poverty line then it’s fine to give the welfare system both barrels. But if you approached this film as a moderate conservative who had no experience of unemployment or real hardship then it would be much too easy to dismiss this as Ken Loach taking his high horse for another ride around the paddock. The job centre manager and Sheila go out of their way to be cruel and vindictive, the CV advisor is smarmy and aloof and supermarket manager mentioned above is instantly cancelled out by Ivan the security guard.

Say for argument’s sake that the same film existed at approximately the same place on the other end of the political spectrum, about a job centre worker struggling to deal with a Daily Mail depiction of the unemployed. It’d be so, so easy to write it off as sensationalist shrieking because we didn’t agree with the message that we’d miss whatever truth was there.

Lads, what are we going to do about the massive tory in this thread?

Obviously the audience is likely to be people who broadly agree with the message of the film. What it’s done (see loads of examples in this thread) is to push this up the agenda and make people more vocal about the problems and the underlying issues.

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The people who agree with the message of this film are currently in the minority in this country. This film could make us as vocal as is possible and we would still be in the minority. Change doesn’t happen by pandering to those who already agree with you.

but being vocal is how you enact change and shift the way debate is framed and convince people who previously disagreed with this to agree. Like I don’t know what you’re suggesting, he should have made a film about people on benefits watching sky TV and being lazy and foreign because that’s what the majority of people think?


If Darth Vader had a few scenes hugging kittens I think I’d have invested in him more as a villain tbf. I mean I hate Star Wars in the first place but if it’d have gone dramatically out of its way to ruin itself I might not be so dismissive about it, maybe.

Absolutely this. Given the number driven target culture, where staff seem to be graded against each other on their ability to avoid paying out, it’s no surprise that so many seemingly decent people end up behaving like utter pricks in first applying the rules strictly to the letter and then often bending them to the claimant’s determent.

It’s absolutely the fault of the system and the people who designed it that way, not the majority of those who work within it (as ever, I’m sure there’s exceptions who delight in behaving like pricks).