I, Daniel Blake

Writer-director Ken Loach has been making movies about the British working class since the mid-60s, and this masterful dramatic feature proves that even after all these years he can still work himself up into righteous, white-hot rage. Stand-up comedian Dave Johns plays the title character, a widowed Newcastle carpenter thrown out of work after suffering a heart attack on the job; he’s recuperated and ready to get back, but a bureaucratic catch-22 makes him ineligible for rehire even as his support check runs out. Loach takes advantage of the star’s gift for gab as he grouses at one unfeeling desk jockey after another, but as in so many of the director’s other films, salvation comes only in giving of oneself to others, as Daniel becomes the much-needed protector to a homeless single mother and her two children just arrived from London. Their story is one of poor people making day-to-day choices—some good, some bad, but almost all of them desperate.