Kes (1969) | Sadfest 2017
Dir: Ken Loach | Cast: David Bradley, Brian Glover, Freddie Fletcher, Lynne Perrie, Colin Welland
110min | UK | Drama
Ken Loach’s family drama KES is social realism at its best. The essence of all things English conflate in a raw and passionate picture of sixties South Yorkshire where a wiry young boy called Billy Casper (played by David Bradley, a newcomer chosen from hundreds of boys) fights a humble underdog status strengthened by his devotion in training a wild kestrel found in the woods. KES has a luminous honesty that shines out in vivid colours and heart-breaking truth. This is really how the sixties used to be and Loach brings it all to life, just as you and I remember it: the brutal discipline at school, the respect but covert recalcitrance we felt for adults (seen in the giggling outburst following by welling tears during the caning scene). When Mrs Casper(Lynne Perrie) is talking to her friends in the pub, her naturalistic performance crackles with quiet despair. Loach coaxes utterly brilliant performances from his newcomers that puts even his hastily flung together agitprop I, Daniel Blake, in the shade. This is a film that zings with emotion, and is the spryness of real life.
Based on Barry Hines’ book A Kestrel for a Knave, this bluray restoration brings out all the vibrancy of the original as the English landscape looks more luminous as Billy masters the patient art of falconry while Colin Welland’s encouraging teacher looks on in quiet fascination (he had spend a week teaching to gain empathy with the boys). Brian Glover (who actually worked at Broadway Grammer) is comical as a the football teacher who insists on winning every move. Freddie Fletcher plays Billy’s elder brother as a a bristling bully. A film that feels prescient of a dark future that came from a decent place. MT
SADFEST 3-5 MARCH | GENESIS CINEMA
KES IS OUT ON DUAL FORMAT DVD/BLURAY FROM 7 NOVEMBER COURTESY OF EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA LABEL