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Kes (1969)



Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 8,598

My Rating

Movie Info

In this 1969 Ken Loach film, a 15-year-old named Billy Casper (played by acting newcomer David Bradley) suffers abuse both at home and at school in Yorkshire, England. At his home in the working-class section of Barnsley, Billy's brother beats him and his family neglects him. At school, most of his teachers ridicule and reject him, especially sadistic Mr. Sugden (Brian Glover. Like other downtrodden children in an outmoded social system favoring the ruling class, Billy appears headed for a


Drama, Art House & International, Classics

Barry Hines

Apr 19, 2011

Image Entertainment

Watch It Now



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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (0) | DVD (7)

A classic of British social realism.

April 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Simply, the filmmakers have brought the background of the boy's life vividly into reality.

April 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Terrific performances, illuminated by Chris Menges' naturalistic but often evocative photography.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Loach is not a director of notable style, nor can he often refuse the obvious shot, but he seems to have a remarkable talent for handling actors and obtaining performances that are truly memorable.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comment (1)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kes is Loach at his best.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The only Loach film I rate more highly is his Spanish civil war picture, Land and Freedom.

September 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Seen today, it still cries its authentic song of rage. It still cuts like a knife.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

A film that captures Loach's ability to find the extraordinary drama in ordinary lives.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Jaunty, sad, poetic, Kes is so humane it makes you tremble.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

A rich film of flesh and blood.

September 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Funny, sad, bitingly authentic, Kes resonates with Loach's anger at the way many kids grow up into narrow, option-free lives.

September 6, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Loach and his cinematographer Chris Menges opt for a realistic, grainy, rough documentary look, which makes us in the audience feel as though we are voyeurs, bearing witness to what Godard had famously proclaimed cinema to be: truth 24 times a second.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Throbs with a simple truthfulness...Loach shows his complimentary interest in documentary-influenced social realism and the improvisational search for the authentic. [Blu-ray]

June 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

a moving, shattering tragedy - a meditation on the warping powers of human institutions. Kes is beautiful, sad and powerful - one of the best British films ever made.

May 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

...a phrase attributed to Truman Capote might well be applied to Billy Casper and his kestrel, as well: The world is not kind to little things.

May 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

Loach handles the film with a deft touch that balances the pathos and inherent sadness of Billy's predicament without sliding into complete emotional despair

May 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

The story of a boy and his bird, Kes is something of a small cinematic treasure in Britain.

May 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

It's one of the most powerful coming-of-age stories ever told and contains passages of great beauty.

April 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Ken Loach's masterful second feature represents a critical turn away from the popularized kitchen-sink realism of the 1950s and '60s and toward a more improvised and unpredictable narrative style.

April 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

"Kes" is an essential British historic document that comes from a deeply personal place, and yet resonates across all cultures.

April 17, 2010 Full Review Source:

A splendid unsentimental realistic working-class family drama.

December 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Kes

Whoops,...I had never heard of this British gem.

Well directed drama feels almost entirely undirected. Social-realist look at young boy growing up in a Northern mining town. I thought the domestic scenes a bit cliche, but the school scenes were great and the football scene was hilariously on the mark.

Billy Casper looks just like a young Mark E. Smith of the Fall ... no?
November 20, 2007

Super Reviewer


This much adored Ken Loach picture is a likable, smart and rightfully depressing film. However for me there was a small sense of a lack of emotional involvement. The tone of it frequently changed from being a coming of age drama to a family film and then back again, which I found slightly confusing. However the performances are genuinely emotionally resonant and the narrative itself is interesting and inspirational. Despite having one of the most unredemptive endings i've ever seen for what was meant to be, essentialy, a film partly about redemption. It's sweet yet edgy, and it maintains as a good example of classic British cinema.
July 3, 2012
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Northern England, 1969, and life is pretty glum for an introspective lad just finishing up regular school. Its the system, you see, that handles people like products in an immense factory. It breeds ... inhumanity. But one found hobby gives our boy some dignity, and that's the training of a wild creature. Stark and oppressive, Loach's commentary on modern times seen through adolescence rings too true to be ignored.
March 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

Ken Loach's sobering, no-frills look at adolescent perseverance in the face of poverty, cruelty and indifference. The subject matter may be bleak and heartbreaking but the film itself is absolutely brilliant.
January 2, 2012
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Kes (DE)
  • Kes (1969) (CA)
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