Parents' Guide to

I, Daniel Blake

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Grim drama about heartless welfare system; language.

Movie R 2017 100 minutes
I, Daniel Blake Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+

A powerful gut-punch that underscores collateral damage

Wow...what a film. A film about bureaucracy that captures someone's humanity as it is being extinguished by the social net that is supposed to assist him. A film that does not pull its punches and tracks human desperation. It accurately depicts people's frustrations with government bureaucracy and the capacity of people's humanity towards each other. The two main protagonists break your heart, but what other options are there when you are in a system that is not designed for you to survive since it seems to work overtime to erase your humanity and eventually your existence?
age 13+

Teen appropriate-just some language

PG-13: some strong language

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

This is a powerful, beautiful, and depressing drama about dignity in the face of humiliation. It's also about humanity in the face of insensitive bureaucracy and about demanding respect and decent treatment for all, not just those who can pay for it. Writer-director Ken Loach is a keen, no-nonsense, socialist-leaning observer whose work reflects the pragmatic vision of someone who trained as a lawyer. As portrayed by him (and others), the British welfare system is a grim bureaucracy populated by stuffy, rule-ridden robots who are badly impersonating social workers.

The grimness never lets up. When Dan can take no more of the system's dark absurdity, he performs an attention-getting act of defiance that gets him hauled off by the police. In a less realistic, less gritty piece of social observation, Dan would have been praised by journalists and brought to the attention of outraged authorities bent on correcting a broken system. Wealthy benefactors would have lined up to rescue him. Nothing so predictable or sentimental happens here. In Loach's world, the occasional social worker with a heart is scolded by her supervisor because showing empathy and being helpful sets a bad precedent. In Loach's world, it's only the poorest of the poor who seem willing to share their last crumbs with fellow sufferers, while the state's system remains largely heartless. Good people who've worked hard and paid their dues all their lives end up victimized when they need help the most. I, Daniel Blake serves as a well-made work of social protest against a system that, as one observer puts it, is designed to make people give up. As Dan assures his starving, ashamed friend, "You are amazing, you've done nothing wrong."

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