Kes is a British film made in 1969; it is directed by Ken Roach and produced by Tony Garnett. The film focuses on how the aspirations of the main character, Billy Casper, are raised by his relationship to falconry while being subdued and dashed by family and school. It is based on the 1968 novel called “A Kestrel for a Knave” authored by Barry Hines. Kes is often highly regarded as a great independent achievement, gaining countless positive film reviews, and and has even broken into several “top 100” lists, all be it at the bottom end.
Kes is the story of Barnsley boy Billy Casper (David Bradley), academic failure and eternal victim, who finds release and a sense of personal identity through training the eponymous kestrel. Committed to falconry in a way he’ll never be to anything at school, Billy gets abuse from his snotty peers and malicious PE teacher Mr. Sugden (Brian Glover). Only buoyant Mr. Farthing (Colin Welland) shows any interest in Billy’s extracurricular activities as he discovers that this apparently useless layabout is actually highly intelligent and dedicated.
Although I could see the point of the film very clearly, and could appreciate the character development we were witnessing throughout, I just found the film frustratingly dull and seriously lacking depth. Kes was extremely realistic in it’s portrayal of Yorkshire life in the late sixties and the acting was also quite sharp in terms of realism. With a running time approaching two hours though the film is painfully long, and although you can understand everything the film lacks in structure, one of Kes’ biggest mistakes is relying on a 12 year old to carry the narrative and keep the audience entertained. It seemed more like a reality documentary following a youngster round in 1969, rather than an actual film, if I may be so bold.
I found Kes to be extremely over rated, especially considering the fact some have claimed it to be a spectacular piece of British cinema.
For me? A legendary disappointment.