Ken Loach returned from retirement to deliver this impassioned drama which courted controversy and captured the zeitgeist. Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a middle-aged carpenter out of work following a heart attack and in need of assistance, but who finds himself unable to navigate the impersonal, impenetrable world of corporatised welfare in 21st-century Britain. Frustrated and abandoned, Daniel befriends single mother Katie (Hayley Squires) in a similar situation. Both are marginalised by society and the government, but their friendship might just help each other get out of their rut.
Ken Loach has spent a distinguished career railing against capitalist indifference, bureaucratic incompetence and burning injustice, but he was supposedly handing over to the next generation following his 2011 film Jimmy’s Hall. Instead he was inspired to make a dramatic return, following the welfare cuts and societal changes that took hold in Britain shortly after his departure.
He was rewarded with his second career Palme d’Or (following The Wind that Shakes the Barley) from the judges of the Cannes Film Festival, along with his best ever box office return, for a film that offers a powerful defence of the disenfranchised and a restatement of their right to be heard.