Published on July 24th, 2013 | by Allan Brown0
Movie Review: Kes (1969)
Running Time: 110 mins
Director: Ken Loach
Writers: Barry Hines (book), Barry Hines (adaptation)
Cast: David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie
Plot: It’s the late 1960s and young Billy Casper should be preparing himself for life after school. However, most of Billy’s free time is being used to care for and train his pet Peregrine falcon, Kes.
Kes was adapted from Barry Hines’ 1968 novel A Kestrel for a Knave and marked Ken Loach’s début feature film. This kitchen sink drama (A term often used to describe a British social realism in film or stage production that highlights social and political issues of the working-class) offers a harsh, gritty and brutally honest snapshot of Britain in 1969.
The film is steadied by an outstandingly naturalistic first time performance by the 14 year old David Bradley as the lovable tearaway Billy Casper. The screenplay and dialogue that still feels as fresh today is vibrant, punchy and handled with such honesty.
Billy’s ongoing run- ins with his bullying brother or his teachers at school are unforgettable and offer some truly stand-out moments, some brutally cruel whilst others brutally hilarious.
While the film highlights the social restraints on the working-class of the time, it never lets the issues weigh down the focus of the story or detract from the main narrative. It can be said there are a few wooden performances here and there and at times the score doesn’t quite fit the tone of the scene but all in all this is a beautiful film and a true British classic.
David Bradley went on to win the BAFTA for most promising newcomer. The film was also nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay BAFTAS.
Summary: A simple yet beautiful film that is undoubtedly a timeless British classic.