Movie / Culture

I, Daniel Black: Social drama as from guide

A mix of sadness, anger and hopelesness is served in the new social drama of Ken Loach. The veteran British director, who for several decades keeps shooting more and more stories of ordinary human life is this time looking closer at the absurd carousel of the employment department. Daniel Blake is a carpenter, who after a heart attack at work is explicitily warned from further hard work. Daniel is thus without a job, but does not prove „sufficient“ disability required to receive welfare benefits. He has the option to reach for another benefit, if he actively seeks (but not finds) a job – so he finds himself in a maze of searching for nonexistent job and applying for unreal financial aid.

Thanks to a very current topic I, Daniel Blake has become a greatly appreciated and awarded movie from both critics and audience. The movie won the Golden Palm award in Cannes. A very intimate-filmed drama is set in pale and grey colors and large units that enable to observe other participants of the bureaucratic roundabouts. At each office there is no Daniel Blake, but many other such Daniels waiting in the queues for better lives. The sensitive camera often captures Daniel through the jambs of door or window of the shop and somehow thus builds an imaginary obstacles in the path of the perspective of the viewer. The main character is played by Dave Johns, better known from comedic TV series, who can absolutely precisely play touching as well as mocking grimace. Brutally Kafkaesque situatuion is complemented by snappy humor, altough it causes rather a desperate laughter. The supporting characters are equally believable and their stories touching, as the shameful scene of single mother Katie in food bank will get you the willies caused by realism, anger and sadness. The finale of the movie is perhaps too explicit criticism of the system, and while the first part of the film is perfectly complemented by the grain of humor, the second part dives increasingly deeper into the daunting helplessness. Therefore, get ready for a dramatic ending, that could spoil a slow, deliberate pace of otherwise excellent social probe.

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