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.


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.


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 think the film shows a lot of things that all have actually happened to people in britain in the past few years (and it’s largely based on peoples reported experiences). obviously it’s unlikely that one person/family/group of people would experience all of these things but it’s strikingly similar to basically all social scientific, ethnographic, policy etc. research on the current social security system in the uk. I have researched sanctions and this film was incredibly similar to some of the things my informants said.

dont think it really shows anyone in a position of authority as being a cunt either. what about the guy that lets her get away with shoplifting? or the people who run the food bank? or the nice woman at the job centre?


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.


yeah my experience of them is there are some absolute arseholes. the worst thing I’ve ever heard is a woman I interviewed being made to sign on the day after her daughter died, under threat of sanctions. spoke to a guy with young daughter who’d been sanctioned 10 times for stupid stuff (all overturned, all unlawful). he regularly went without food so that his daughter could eat. spoke to people who talked about the stress of sanctions and being mistreated by the job centre as a contributing factor in domestic abuse situations. the whole system is designed to degrade and discipline people.


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


I haven’t seen the film yet. kind of low motivation to see it, given that I’ve been through that system and find myself back at the whim of it.

I think that a lot of people complicit in the shitty things the film portrays (from what I’ve read about the film) are very touchy about being made out to be at fault in any way.

I don’t know how valid the grievances @Steved has are about it being somewhat black and white, but I also don’t know how much you can tiptoe around something so rotten; you can wring your hands too much, afford even-handedness where it isn’t merited, and besides, this film’s apparent emotional urgency is both necessary and understandable.

like, if you’re at the mercy of the Tory government’s begrudging and contemptful welfare bureaucracy, you’re not lucky enough to be able to weigh things up all that much. you’re living in fear.


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.


what if people who are wrong interpret things wrongly?