With a Ken Loach film you know that you are going to get strident social commentary – and unashamedly (bless him), it is from the Left. His latest is set in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a world away from the high-rent glamour of London and the village-dotted dales of that green and pleasant land (no cheery vicars here). Widowed Daniel (Dave Johns) has been laid off work because of a heart attack, but the outsourced benefits office that is meant to alleviate his plight deems him ineligible for support payments. He can, though, qualify for some relief if he actively seeks employment – which his doctor insists he shouldn’t. As in Kafka’s The Trial, if it weren’t so infuriating it would be comic. Unexpectedly, he teams up with Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother of two who is having a similarly futile experience with bureaucracy. Loach relies on neither visual gimmickry nor a heavy-handed Pavlovian soundtrack to make his point – he tells the story pure and simple. It is impossible not to find galling the degree to which the State (in Oz as well as the UK, if you’ve not been paying attention) has dehumanised so many people, or to be outraged by the blatant propaganda (ie bullshit) that attempts to mask the damage caused to so many for whom nothing trickles down in laissez faire capitalism’s rosy gluttony. Loach’s camera is taken to the streets and to a food bank – an incredibly harrowing scene – where there is only our shared humanity to be challenged and humbled by. What prevents agit-prop from stifling the movie is the entirely natural but avuncular relationship that grows between Daniel and Katie and the extraordinary performances from all involved. Katie’s kids (Brianna Shann and Dylan McKiernan) are beautiful, as is Daniel’s tenement neighbour (Kema Sikazwe), who flogs trainers on the street that he is importing by post from an online football tragic in China. And the ladies at the welfare office are poison and gold. Reality is out of vogue, but this is special.