Sorry we missed you, says the card from the DPD driver. Your parcel is in your wellingtons in the back garden.
Well, that’s a familiar message to us middle class online shoppers.
How we curse when our delivery man (looking a bit stressed) arrives late.
What we don’t know, until now, is perhaps why he’s late and the repercussions.
Loach and his usual writer, Paul Laverty, have crafted another slice of life drama out of real delivery man stories, real care worker stories. But the problem with this latest opus is that they have basically lumped all of the worst case scenarios onto one family.
The outcome is, therefore, an almost unbelievable tidal wave of misery. Of course this story is possible but it’s too contrived. It’s like following the proverbial gambling addict backing red but black coming up time after time after time on his worst ever losing streak.
Add to this Loach’s penchant for using under-exposed (or non-professional) actors and he runs the risk of it not coming off. And in this case there are too many misfires from his earnest, but variably talented, cast.
In the lead, Kris Hitchen does a good job of holding the whole thing together, although it’s the relationship with his charming daughter (who largely steals the show) Lisa Jane that is the emotional heart of the movie. Sadly his world-weary care-working wife, Abbie, played by Debbie Hollywood fails to match up. She has no previous pedigree and I don’t expect she will progress on the back of this, despite a valiant attempt to pull off a difficult role.
I don’t intend to spoil this with plot detail but I can tell you this is RELENTLESSLY bleak. To the point of being unbelievable: few in the gig economy can have ALL of this bad luck but I totally understand that many have some.
If only the misery had been doled out to more characters, and if only the acting had been of a universally higher standard this could have been a Loach great.
But it’s not.
I, Daniel Blake had few of the faults of this latest outing and all of its strengths.
Saying that, Ken Loach is one of our great polemicists and his voice is vital in our hideous Tory-driven self-centred economy.
Boris will never watch this, and if he does he’ll scoff at it. But, then, we scoff at his privilege.
I’m sorry I can’t rate this amongst Loach’s best, but it deserves to be seen, albeit with a slightly forgiving viewer attitude.
A great director performing at sub-par is nevertheless a great director and I still rate this a 7/10.