I, Daniel Blake: "When You Lose Your Self Respect, You're Done For"

Director: Ken Loach
Writer:     Paul Laverty
Starring: Dave Johns
                Hayley Squires
                Dylan McKiernan
                Briana Shanna
                Kema Sikazwe
Rating:    *****

Release Date: Out Now 

British cinema is often under appreciated and sadly never seen by as many people as it should be. Films like Tyrannosaur, Tower Block and The Disappearence of Alice Creed are truly superb films, that have a very small audience; even in Britain itself. I, Daniel Blake is a sad example of this; the BAFTA winning film I had never heard of till BAFTA night is an emotive and raw drama that needs to be seen by more.

Daniel Blake (Johns) is a widower, living on benefits, struggling with his health and trying to find out what his meaning is after his wife passed away. Though possibly seeming disgruntled and angry when people first meet him, he actually proves himself to be a caring and gentle man looking for healing. He shows his kind heart when he meets single mum, Katie (Squires), and her children Dylan and Daisy. New to the area and trying to sign on to claim her benefits, Daniel gives her the help and support she needs when things begin to get too much. They each become each other's emotional support and form a father/daughter relationship in the face of adversity.

Dave Johns is gripping the role of Daniel Blake, filling the screen with warmth, grief and heart. He is a character that many of us probably know or can relate to in one way or another, which makes him that much more easier to empathise for. He is struggling, he is mourning and he is scared; and at some point in everyone's life, that is something we must go through. Johns is able to keep his performance natural and grounded, and it is a gripping performance to watch.

Johns is brilliant in his role, and supporting him is the stunning Hayley Squires. I've not seen her in anything before, but was blown away by her gutsy and brave portrayal of Katie. She is a woman that just wants the best for her children, skipping meals and making drastic choices in order to keep them healthy and safe. Squires is gritty and strong in the way she delivers Katie, but isn't afraid to deliver a vulnerability when it is required. Her performance is genuinely stunning and moments towards the end of the film packed a huge emotional punch!

A special mention needs to go to Briana Shanna, who plays Katie's daughter Daisy. She is a mature and sharp young actress who handles the subject and script wonderfully. Her work with Johns and Squires feels natural and she lights up the screen whenever she appears.

Director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty have worked together, along with the actors, to make a thought-provoking and intriguing look at the state of some areas of Britain and the people that live there. It is a story about fighting for what is right, and doing the best you can despite things seeming impossible. Loach has kept the film looking raw and gritty, while Laverty's script is real and moving. I, Daniel Blake is British cinema done perfectly, and if you haven't seen it...do!

I, Daniel Blake - Trailer