1384. Kes (1969)

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6.8 Frustrating
  • Acting 7.0
  • Directing 7.1
  • Story 6.4
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie

Director: Ken Loach

Running Time: 112 mins


Kes is a British film about a young schoolboy living in a working class area of Yorkshire who spends his free time training and caring for a hawk.

As acclaimed as Kes is, I simply couldn’t warm to it. Whilst it does have a very bleak and depressing atmosphere at the forefront, the main focus of this film is to some degree positive, and it was clearly going for a heartfelt portrayal of a young boy finding happiness away from all of the worst parts of his difficult life, but I was never so emotionally engrossed by that.

That’s not to say that I hated Kes, because there was a lot that impressed me. For one, when the film is really going for bleakness and gloominess, you can feel it very strongly. Whilst I may not have been so engrossed by the majority of the film, there were undoubtedly a few moments where the film goes for all-out depression and sadness that really grabbed me, by far the most impressive directing from Ken Loach in the film.

Saying that may make it sound like I don’t want any happiness in a story, but although I admire the efforts to weave the happier, more heartfelt story into the centre of a very bleak world, I just didn’t think it worked well enough.

The biggest reason for that was unfortunately the structure of the film. The gloomier notes on which the film starts and ends on were undoubtedly engaging, but the problem was that the dark side of the story and the positive side felt far too detached for me to be properly engrossed by either of them.

The novel may have worked that way in creating a separate, happier environment where the young boy and his bird bond, but in the film, switching back and forth between the good and the bad felt so episodic, and really didn’t make for a smooth and consistently engrossing watch. Yes, it may have had its moments, but for the most part, Kes was a frustrating film due to its clunky structure that didn’t allow me to feel the huge emotional impact that the story really needed to give, and that’s why I’m giving Kes a 6.8.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com