Thursday, 25 December 2014
Kes, Ken Loach’s 1st feature to release theatrically and a landmark in British cinema, belongs to the pantheon of films which showed rare mastery of telling a tale through the eyes of a young protagonist. Adapted from Barry Hines’ novel A Kestrel for a Knave, the social-realist drama provided a bleak, unflinching and unsentimental portrait of working-class life and deeply engrossing peek into a young boy’s attempts at finding a ray of hope and freedom from the apathy and despair surrounding him. Billy Casper (David Bradley), a frail 15-year old boy, lives with his single mother and elder brother in a cramped apartment. He starts his day early delivering newspapers, goes to a school that he doesn’t like on account of the regimentation he faces there, is perennially bullied by his abusive half-brother Jud (Freddie Fletcher), and is destined to eventually become a coal miner once he grows up. The cold, dreary weather and the industrial grime add to his suffocation and his inherent, but futile, desire to break free. Hence, when he spots a kestrel while aimlessly roaming around, starts learning falconry and tries taming the bird, he suddenly finds something to look forward, viz. momentary escape from his dead-end life. Bradley, with his deadpan expressions and evocation of his fast receding innocence, gave a startling performance – the brief moments he spends with “Kes” imbued the brilliantly photographed and scored film with warmth and poignancy. The hilarious football match, conducted by the stern PE teacher Sugden (Brian Glover), a failed sportsperson who daydreams himself as his ManU heroes Bobby Charlton and George Best, added a dash of humour to this otherwise heartbreaking tale.
Director: Ken Loach