Kes (1969) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kes (1969)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 menial job with no future. Consequently, he has no motivation and nothing to look forward to, until the day he finds a kestrel -- a European falcon with the ability to hover against strong wind. The bird, a fledgling, is akin to the boy, who must withstand winds of his own. It is not surprising, therefore, that Billy finds meaning in befriending and caring for the baby kestrel. He raises, nurtures, and trains the falcon, whom he calls "Kes." Its development gives him hope that he too will one day develop, that he too will gain the skills to fly against the wind. Then Billy opts to spend his brother's track money on food for Kes, which sets the stage for a grave disagreement betwen the young men and an unhappy outcome. ~ Mike Cummings, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (for language, nudity and some teen smoking)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Barry Hines
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 19, 2011
Image Entertainment


David Bradley
as Billy Casper
Lynne Perrie
as Mrs. Casper
Colin Welland
as Mr. Farthing
Brian Glover
as Mr. Sugden
David Glover
as Tibbutt
Joey Kaye
as Comedian at Pub
Bill Dean
as Fish and Chip Shop M...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Kes

Critic Reviews for Kes

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (6)

Kes is one of the most astute, engaged films about education and what it takes for kids to be excited about learning or passionate about anything, really, whether in the classroom or roaming the fields with a feathered friend.

Full Review… | March 14, 2015
Time Out
Top Critic

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

One of the most powerful coming-of-age stories ever told, containing passages of great beauty.

Full Review… | June 29, 2015
Common Sense Media

Kes, admirably photographed by Chris Menges (who was camera operator on Poor Cow) is not to be lightly dismissed; and Loach's success with young players especially makes one eager to see his forthcoming film for the Save the Children Fund.

Full Review… | March 16, 2015
Sight and Sound

One of the nation's finest film-makers at an early peak.

Full Review… | March 16, 2015
Times (UK)

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

An achingly beautiful tale. The bucolic music and the landscapes wandered by the formidable protagonist child and his trained kestrel, embellish the cold and austere north of England. The child's tender look upon the bird is that of yearning, of high spirit and care free mind, far beyond the predicaments of acceptance raised in his school and in his own home. Its gritty, unapologetic and sometimes despairing naturalism hits delicate fibres.

Pierluigi Puccini

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

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