This Tues my Brother and I went to the cinema. OK so there isn’t really anything out of the ordinary there (we go fairly frequently), only this time we had no idea what the film was until the film started. What is this weird and wonderful experience? Well it’s called Screen Unseen and it’s a monthly event put on by the cinema chain Odeon.
I know what you’re thinking, but what if you don’t like the film? Well fear not in the week or so leading up to the screening, Odeon release a few very cryptic clues to help you decipher what the film is – and if like me you are rubbish at cryptic clues, then handily the clues appear on social media so you are free to browse what everyone else thinks it is too. PLUS, the tickets are only a fiver! yes that’s right only £5 so even if don’t like it walking out won’t feel like such a waste of money. PLUS for the same £5 ticket you can book a seat in the ‘premier section’. Now for those of you unfamiliar with this idea, basically Odeon decided that they would put in some slightly (and I mean slightly) comfier chairs in the rows that they have decided have the best views and charge extra for the pleasure. Now I disagree with those seats having the best view but shhhhhh because it still means I pay the ‘normal’ (albeit student discounted) ticket price. However seeing as it was the same price as the ‘regular’ seating we were like why the hell not!
Ok, So the film. Turns out we were heading to see I, Daniel Blake (the social media guys were right then). Now I’m not going to lie, this isn’t a film I would have picked out from a list to go and see, however I am very pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Set up in Geordie-land (that’s tyneside, or Newcastle for those not in the know) we first meet Daniel Blake having just had fit-to-work assessment. While his Doctor, consultant and physio all say that he is not yet recovered enough from his recent heart attack to go back to work, the ‘health professional’ at the assessment deems otherwise. My thoughts immediately screamed Tory Britain in a nutshell. Anyway so while Dan waits for the phone call from the illusive decision maker (who by the way seems as real illusive as the great wizard in the wizard of Oz) to tell him about the decision to cut off his benefits that he just received through the post! His only choice in the meantime is to go onto job seekers allowance and it is in the jobcentre where Dan meets Katie, a londoner who has just moved to geordie-land with her 2 children and got lost on their way to their appointment and was consequently going to be referred for a sanction, because apparently the staff in the jobcentre lack compassion.
Anyway, so we follow Dan and katies struggles through hardship and poverty in a very real and gritty way. There’s no sugar coating the frustrations, the hunger, the cold, the embarrassment and the shame that I’m sure reflects that of those going through similar circumstances. However having not been in those circumstances myself, I can only imagine what that feels like and this film goes a long way to showing it. Despite this, there is still and endearing quality to the characters, they are genuinely nice people with all the flaws associated with being human. I felt myself willing them to make the right choices and wanting to give them a hug during the darkest moments.
I also learnt some pretty cool ideas for cheap and easy ways to help keep you warm – some of which I wish I had known during Uni! For instance if you put bubble wrap up onto your windows then the air in the bubbles will help insulate you room – almost like an extra layer of glazing I guess.
I can see why the film was awarded the Palm D’Or at Cannes, it tells a story about an area of society that we so often prefer not to think about until it happens to us, yet it tells it in a very believable way. It’s a story that it happening up and down the country and I hope this film helps people – especially the government- understand what those ‘at the bottom’ are really going through and this is why it is such an important film.
Yes I said it wasn’t a film that I wouldn’t have picked out at the Cinema but i did really enjoy it and I would try out Screen Unseen again. I do really recommend that you watch this film at some point, if anything it will remind you just how lucky you are and make you grateful for what you have.
Until next time …