I, Daniel Blake

June 4, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Posted in 2017 | Leave a comment
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I really agonized over my rating for this film. It is really the best film I have seen this year, in so many ways. This British film tells the story of two people, Dan and Katie, who meet while trying to get unemployment benefits. The story follows Dan’s struggle through the Goldbergian British bureaucracy, as he tries to get the benefits he needs while retaining his dignity. Along the way, he tries to help Katie and her children out wherever he can. This was such a simple, human story told so well. The lead actors were stunning. Dave Jones and Hayley Squires are mostly known on British television, but they gave such genuine performances that whole scenes felt entirely real and unrehearsed. The naturalness of these two actors made the story that much more impactful and this was a moving, difficult story. I have no idea what British social services is like but, if it is anything like this, it’s a tragedy. I only know my own experience with unemployment here in the US a few years ago. It was convoluted but manageable and I found the government employees to be as helpful as they could be. And this brings me to my struggle with this film. I do not know how to evaluate the story because I don’t know how realistic it really is. It takes some turns that are clearly melodramatic and, in so doing, it robs the story of some of its energy. I just don’t know how much hyperbole is happening on screen, so I don’t know how to evaluate it. That said, I was deeply moved by much of the film and was really taken in by the characters. So, in the end, I chose to rate it based on that. I think it’s a film everyone who loves great acting should see.

 

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