Ken LoachUnited Kingdom / France / Belgium100 minutes2016ColourEnglish
The eponymous Daniel is an affable, 59-year-old carpenter in Newcastle, fighting to collect his Employment and Support Allowance after falling ill. (Government illogic stipulates that his benefits will be taken away unless he looks for work, yet doctor's orders prevent him from working.) Waiting to sign on at the local Jobcentre, Daniel befriends Katie, a young single mother who is also being shoved around by the vagaries of the system, having just been relocated with her two kids from a London homeless shelter to an affordable council flat up north. A mutually beneficial alliance, and makeshift extended family, is formed.
Working with some of most powerful set pieces he has ever filmed, Loach effortlessly builds empathy for two downtrodden people — honest would-be workers navigating a cruel tangle of red tape while trying to steal a happy moment or two.
I, Daniel Blake won the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year, and it is indeed one of Loach's finest explorations of social realism.