Shame on those people who say this film is not realistic, is boringly moralistic or – most shockingly – is poverty porn.
I have known these people. If it weren’t for the opportunities afforded me by a free (at the time) education system together with a wodge of good luck, I would be these people. So you can talk to the hand if you have no empathy for Daniel, Katie or any of the other people caught in this ridiculous welfare system that pushes each of them to the brink.
I’m not saying that there aren’t people who are abusing said system – they are the ones actually making it even more difficult for the genuine people – but this film is not about the criminals. It’s about ordinary people who find themselves in a humiliating, soul-destroying situation through no fault of their own. A situation which takes its toll on their health (mental and physical), their self-respect and their whole lives, and lays the blame firmly at the feet of out-of-touch, privileged politicians who went to fee-paying boarding schools and who have never in their entire lives known or even imagined what it is like to be in such a situation.
The automatons carrying out the government orders (reporting to the unseen Decision Maker), merely repeat their lines without deviation. Rules are not to be broken, no accommodation can be made for any exceptional circumstances, the contradictions in the system are unacknowledged.
This is a film very much of its time – Brexit has taken over the headlines of late, but it wasn’t that long ago that food banks were in the news and Ken Loach does right to remind us that little has changed.
Food banks. In Britain. In 2016.
They exist, they are real, and shame on anyone who denies this.
A version of this post originally appeared on http://www.filmdispenser.com