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Kes review

Check out our review of Kes - the powerful 1969 movie from director Ken Loach

Kes poster


Certificate: PG

Starring: David Bradley, Freddie Fletcher

Release date: 1969

4 out of 5


A powerful movie from director Ken Loach (best known for gritty grown-up movies like Land and Freedom and Bread and Roses), Kes is based on the Barry Hines novel A Kestrel for a Knave.

It’s Loach’s most moving film, the story of a lonely, abused boy named Billy (Bradley) who lives in the depressing, poor mining town of Barnsley. One day he spots a kestrel’s nest in the woods, steals a young kestrel and begins to train the bird in scenes that Loach captures beautifully, revealing how Billy gradually sees that there is more to life than his working-class surroundings.

It’s very downbeat and grimy stuff – while Brian Glover’s mean PE teacher is just hideous. It’s only for older kids (12-plus), but they will be moved by this fascinating film.

Is Kes suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

None, but do note there are numerous situations (Billy rowing with his mother, school punishments etc) and language not suitable for the under 11s.

The movies recommended to the right of this review are also aimed at older viewers.

If you like this, why not try: Breaking Away, Stand By Me, The Outsiders, Gregory's Girl, Lucas,