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Coming Soon

I, Daniel Blake

Opens 6/2/2017
Coming to:   Camera 7 Pruneyard

Director: Ken Loach

Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy

Synopsis: 59-year-old Daniel Blake has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, for the first time, he needs help from the State. He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan, and they soon find themselves in no-man's land, caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of 'striver and skiver' in modern day Britain. "A film of empathy, grace and wit."--Toronto Star

Official Web Site:

MPAA Rating: R

No free passes or daily deals, but discount cards o.k.


A Film of Empathy, Grace and Wit

By Peter Howell, Toronto Star

“Say what things are like, because it not only breaks your heart, it should make you angry,” British filmmaker Ken Loach declared at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, paraphrasing the playwright Bertolt Brecht.

Loach, the 80-year-old lion of social realist cinema, does just that with I, Daniel Blake, the movie that earned him the Palme d’Or, his second. A surprise win of the top prize at Cannes 2016 — other films had been tipped to triumph — it now seems part and parcel of a worldwide populist uprising that includes the Brexit and Trump vote shocks.

Compassionate and often funny but unstinting in its critique of cold-hearted bureaucracy, I, Daniel Blake stars well-liked standup comedian Dave Johns and rising talent Hayley Squires. They play struggling citizens who become friends by chance and allies by conviction when an Orwellian welfare system forces them to take drastic survival measures.

Johns is the titular Daniel, a 59-year-old carpenter recovering from a heart attack and grieving the loss of his beloved wife. A likeable and generous bloke, as long as he’s not pushed, Daniel is slow to adapt to the 21st century — he doesn’t know how to use a computer.

Squires is Katie, a young single mom with two preteen kids, limited options and boundless determination. She knows she’s made a few bad life choices and she wants to do better.

Daniel and Katie are intelligent and hard-working, but medical and family setbacks have left them both nearly destitute while unable to obtain sufficient social assistance. Katie and her kids Daisy (Briana Shann) and Dylan (Dylan McKiernan) were forced to leave family and friends and move north to blue-collar Newcastle from London, several hours’ drive away, because no suitable public housing could be found in their hometown.

In scenes both wickedly satirical and heartbreaking — a food bank scene is devastating — Daniel and Katie are put through the wringer of a Byzantine and dehumanizing welfare bureaucracy. The system demands they look for work even if they’re unable to do it (Daniel is under doctor’s orders), with few options to change or even argue their plight.

Screenwriter Paul Laverty, Loach’s longtime associate, based his fictional screenplay on real stories he gathered by interviewing people like Daniel and Katie across Britain.

He and Loach found what they were looking for. They’ve made a film of empathy, grace and wit that goes a long way to explaining the populist anger so emblematic of these times.

Copyright 2017 Toronto Stay

Timely Truth-to-Power Statement

By Chris Nashawaty

British director Ken Loach’s sympathies have always been with working people. He’s spent the past 50 years training his camera on the sort of folks who don’t get close-ups in a medium as glamour-obsessed as cinema. His latest, the winner of the Palme d’Or, is no different. It also couldn’t be more timely as a truth-to-power statement, since millions of Americans are probably about to lose their health care.

As the film opens, the title character (stand-up comic Dave Johns, wonderful) is being asked maddening questions by a National Health worker. Daniel is a widower with a heart condition. He’s too sick to go back to work as a carpenter and too well to receive benefits — the victim of a system more interested in protocol than people. But he’s not about to give up. “I’m like a dog with a bone,” he says in his pudding-thick Newcastle accent.

Daniel befriends a single mother in a similar spot (Hayley Squires) who relies on the food bank while her ­daughter is teased at school because her sneakers are falling apart. Her shame is ­devastating. When Daniel tells her, “We all need the wind at our back now and again,” it’s hard not to get a little outraged and a lot choked up.

Loach’s film isn’t as stridently political as it probably sounds. These are just proud people who want to be treated with respect. There’s one slightly melodramatic turn near the end that felt off, but by then I was already three tissues deep. A–

Copyright 2017 Entertainment Weekly


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