Frequently mocked and physically unkempt product of a lower-class family (David Bradley) befriends a kestrel - the sole object of affection in his life - and director Loach, being Mr. Grumpy, decides to have it taken from him, because there is no joy in Mudville. Instead of a boy-and-his-dog tale, it's a boy-and-his-bird - with the bird as an obvious metaphor for hope and progress - but like many of Loach's dreary portraits of poverty, it provides no potential for any of its misfits to escape their misery: it's one thing, as a filmmaker, to whine about something, and another to provide some hint towards redemption or a way out (few can pull this off well: Mouchette and Rosetta being two examples). It doesn't help that the lead boy tends to bring about many of his own problems and invite criticism: it's okay to be a dreamer, but sometimes you have to do your schoolwork and not goof around.
Director: Kenneth Loach
Year Released: 1969