Kes (1969) (6/10)

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Written and directed by indie film maker Ken Loach, Kes tells the heartbreaking story of a tormented British adolescence growing up in the poverty-stricken north. The story’s protagonist, Billy Casper, is abused both at home by his brother and at school by his classmates. However, his outlook on life changes when he adopts a tiny kestrel bird, which he names “Kes”. The film is a portrayal of the harsh realities faced by the British working class in the post-WW2 era. It also criticises the vastly unpopular and elitist Tripartite System, which categorised British children into three different tiers of education based on a poor examination of their personal ability. While the film failed to make a lasting impression on mainstream overseas audiences or huge profits at the box office, it is nonetheless critically acclaimed with universally high reviews, boasting even a rare 4/4 rating by Roger Ebert, who marked it as “one of the best, the warmest, the most moving films of recent years.”

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