A great figure of European cinema, Ken Loach, won a Palm D’Or for his art and his constant calling to care for humanity in an increasingly digital XXI century. He won the award in the Cannes Festival for his movie “I, Daniel Blake”, which tells two intertwined stories: on one hand, the one of a carpenter who just overcame a heart attack, and tries to obtain a pension from the national health system because he’s unable to work. On the other hand, there’s the story of a young mother of two who’s on the brink of a life crisis and about to fall into misery. In his acceptance award, he said: “I come to the festival because it’s fundamental for the survival of cinema. Please, resist”.
Ken Loach, who due to his age has not enough time to make more of his excellent work, has always been faithful to himself, to describing his concern about the state of affairs and his view on how fucked up life can be for those who are below, to capture pained or angry protagonists who are the people on which the system feeds. And sometimes the result was better, or worse. Some of his films are almost propagandistic, but those that depict truth, sentiment and complexity are really good. And I, Daniel Blake is the best movie this director has made in a long time.
Loach goes back to the suburbs of London, to tell the almost absurd story of a widower to whom doctors have told he’s at risk of dying if he doesn’t relax, but at the same time, is pressured by the bureaucratic system to find a job if he wants to receive a pension to live. And despite his desperate situation, he still is solidarious with a young woman and her two children, who finds all other doors shut, and who is getting by thanks to soup kitchens and social housing. This story is told with such realism that it shakes the viewer.
The usual stiffs, the worshipers of pretentious and fashionable nothingness, accused Loach of Manichaeism, of making an old and outdated form of cinema. I laugh at their bewilderment at the triumph of a director in a festival that usually embraces ephemeral trends.
Watch the trailer for “I, Daniel Blake”