Essay

 
Place: New York

Hopeless to Hopeful

Art Categories:  Film, Movie

I, Daniel Blake” saved me. The trend of movies nowadays is to show harsh reality and brutal violence. A hopeless reality evokes our awareness; things don’t go so easily, and inhuman violence stops us from being adventurous. But I’ve been feeling that it overwhelms our capacity. Not only film, but also other media, daily news and social media release captivating images that occupy our minds, so that bright future doesn’t await us.

 

The result of the Election Day really damaged my inner psyche. My spirit was trapped in a thorny cage, so my body was heavy and it was painful to wake up every morning. I was desperate for relief.

 

 

Then I went to see British master Ken’s Loach’s new feature “I, Daniel Blake” which received Palme D’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The film follows 59-year-old handyman with a heart condition Daniel Blake, living New Castle, North East England, who wants to look for work. While having a hard time keeping up with the speed of society—current technology is overwhelming for him—he encounters and helps out single mother Katie Morgan and her two children who are trying to start new life in a unfamiliar town.

 

 

Together with his longtime collaborating writer Paul Laverty, Mr. Loach has portrayed working class people in films. When I once met Mr. Laverty he said, “People who have the least life has to offer and they’ve made such incredible sacrifice…they’re incredibly funny, smart and bright and strong.”  Even though their characters face difficult situations, Mr. Loach and Mr. Laverty offer attractive individuals.

 

 

Hayley Squires (left) and Dave Johns (right)

During the film we witness the character’s struggling life. As their frustrations pile up, so does our own. But what impresses me the most is that they never stop helping each other. Even though they may have very little, they help each other out. And they care about each other sincerely. Mr. Laverty said to me before, “I think all our lives are full of people who’ve shown kindness and gentleness and insight and intelligence.” The world through Mr. Laverty’s keen sensibility is reflected in “I, Daniel Blake.”

 

 

 

Briana Shann

Depicting the harsh reality is one of the film’s expressions, but so is depicting the ideal. The powerful experience of “I, Daniel Blake” is universal. It speaks to us wherever you live and whenever you see it. But because kindness and sincerity are abandoned in this era, suffocation, frustration and aggression grow in us. “I, Daniel Blake” allows us to see the world from a different angle and inspires us to direct what the world can be. The film tells us what we can pursue from now on. What a relief. “I, Daniel Blake” is a breath.

 

 

Text by Taiyo Okamoto

Photo by Joss Barratt Courtesy of Sundance Selects

 

“I, Daniel Blake” opens in limited release on December 23rd.