#TIFF16: “I, DANIEL BLAKE”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Daniel (Dave Johns) is on mandatory work leave after suffering a heart attack. His doctors will not approve his going back to work, but the government has deemed him fit to return. As he fights to collect his Employment and Support Allowance, he befriends single mother Katie (Hayley Squires), who is struggling to provide for her two young children.
Director Ken Loach won the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for this searing and deeply emotional portrait of two adults determined to survive – and for good reason. The Film plays a bit episodically, but it is downright heartbreaking throughout. Its utterly frigid third act feels like a punch in the face by the time the credits roll. While Loach’s filmmaking coupled with Paul Laverty’s screenplay play like a damning and slightly melodramatic essay against the British government, every performance more than makes up for it. Johns is terrific as the titular Daniel, but Squires steals the show with every devastating moment she has to go through. Their work here will likely be the most raw and genuine you see during TIFF ’16. It might be an aggravating experience, but I, Daniel Blake demands to be seen.
Just be sure to bring tissues.
I, DANIEL BLAKE screens at TIFF ’16 on Monday, September 12, 2016 at 8:30 PM at Scotiabank 1
and Friday, September 16, 2016 at 6:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1.