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Kes (1969)


Average Rating: 9.3/10
Reviews Counted: 24
Fresh: 24
Rotten: 0

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 5
Fresh: 5
Rotten: 0

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 8,613



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 … More

PG-13 (for language, nudity and some teen smoking)
Drama , Art House & International , Classics
Directed By:
Written By:
Barry Hines
In Theaters:
Apr 19, 2011
Image Entertainment


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Critic Reviews for Kes

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

A classic of British social realism.

Full Review… | April 18, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 18, 2011
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Kes is Loach at his best.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | September 11, 2011
Observer [UK]

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

Full Review… | September 9, 2011
Daily Telegraph

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

Full Review… | September 9, 2011
Daily Express

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

Full Review… | September 9, 2011
This is London

A rich film of flesh and blood.

Full Review… | September 8, 2011

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

Full Review… | September 6, 2011
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.

Full Review… | August 15, 2011

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

Full Review… | June 10, 2011
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.

Full Review… | May 15, 2011
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.

Full Review… | May 5, 2011

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

Full Review… | May 4, 2011
Q Network Film Desk

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

Full Review… | May 1, 2011
Parallax View

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

Full Review… | April 21, 2011
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.

Full Review… | April 20, 2011
Slant Magazine

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

Full Review… | April 17, 2010

A splendid unsentimental realistic working-class family drama.

Full Review… | December 18, 2007
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?

Bob Stinson

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.

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.

Apeneck Fletcher

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.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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