Hayley Squires, Dave Johns, Briana Shann and Dylan McKiernan play a makeshift family in I, Daniel Blake. (eOneFilms)

Hayley Squires, Dave Johns, Briana Shann and Dylan McKiernan play a makeshift family in I, Daniel Blake. (eOneFilms)

Film looks at flawed system

Director Ken Loach’s drama I, Daniel Blake looks at the pitfalls of Britian’s social welfare system

Vernon Film Society audiences familiar with director Ken Loach’s past successes — Jimmy’s Hall, The Angels’ Share, The Wind That Shakes the Barley — will be excited to view his latest movie I, Daniel Blake, screening Monday at the Towne Cinema.

For nearly 50 years, Loach has been addressing socio-economic issues in Britain and beyond through the working-class heroes who populate his films, real people in usually dire situations. Most recently, Loach won his second Cannes Palme d’Or with I, Daniel Blake, a timely drama about an ailing handyman’s battle to survive after being denied his government health benefits.

Daniel (Dave Johns) is an affable 59-year-old carpenter in Newcastle, England, fighting to collect his Employment and Support Allowance after falling ill. Government illogic stipulates that his benefits will be taken away unless he looks for work, yet doctor’s orders prevent him from working.

Waiting to sign on at the local job centre, Daniel befriends Katie (Hayley Squires), a young single mother who is also being shoved around by the vagaries of the system, having been relocated with her two kids from a London homeless shelter to an affordable council flat up north. A mutually beneficial alliance and makeshift extended family is formed.

I, Daniel Blake is at its best when it’s chronicling the impromptu, completely platonic friendship that develops between two people with nothing in common except decency,” said Mike D’Angelo, with The A.V. Club.

I, Daniel Blake screens Monday, April 3 at the Vernon Towne Cinema at the regular times of 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available one week ahead at the Towne and the Bean Scene for $7. Cash only. Rated 14A for coarse language.