Non-educated delinquents… with one who wants to break that mold… NEDS (Tribeca Film On Demand)April 20, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: NEDS (Tribeca Film).
Set in early 70’s Glasgow, this is the story of John McGill (Gregg Forrest as 10-year old John and the outstanding Connor McCarron as John at 14), a bright young lad, cherubic, book-loving and curious. But McGill has a few things not in his favor such as a vicious, alcoholic bully of a dad (Peter Mullen) and a ne’r-do-well older brother, Benny (Joe Szula) who heads up the local Car-D gang.
In his favor are his mother, Theresa (Louise Goodall), a part-time nurse and an encouraging aunt (Marianna Palka) who visits from time to time from the States. Theresa believes in her younger son and does everything she can to support him when he looks to get into the top academic-level class at the local Catholic secondary school.
Problem is his teachers are well acquainted with his delinquent older brother and they have it in for McGill no matter how nothing-like and smart. McGill knows he’s better than this and he fights to rise above it. But when he’s snubbed and dropped by a rich, middle-class boy, he loses faith in himself and turns toward what he believes in his gut is his destiny – that he’s no more than one of the ‘neds’. He joins his brother’s gang, taking up the vocation he’d hoped to avoid.
Yet he’s not made to be one of them… he stands out by not really fitting in anywhere; instead of an ordinary, spiteful hoodlum, his anger transfigures itself into violence and psychotic behavior. He has no language or any real way to articulate what or how he feels. He just knows he doesn’t belong– not to the kids who will succeed in school who might escape their gritty neighborhood nor to the gang members cursed to remain.
NEDS (Tribeca Film)
As John McGill causes a lot of damage and severe injury to a couple other boys, the one attribute that might save him emerges: guilt. He thinks deeply about what he’s done and realizes the ripple effect of what he himself has caused. While it’s not clear in the end what’s to become of Young McGill, we have hope that if he can just make it through adolescence, he might have the makings of a flawed but decent man. He’s got both parents within him: an arrogant, angry father and a sensitive, loving mother. His journey is to take the cards stacked against him and toss them once and for all.
Yes, the film is a tad too long at 2 hours and 5 minutes and stylistically it gets a bit ‘CLOSCKWORKD ORANGE’ or ‘LORD OF THE FLIES’ a la Glasgow as John tries valiantly to fit in as a gang member. Yet it’s worth staying with this to the end.
The cast is made up of mostly unknowns and novices. Mullen brought in more than 300 boys to audition, improvise and participate in a weekly Fight Club, a workshop meant to teach the lads stage combat or faux-fighting for film. As a result, no one was injured in shooting the tough, violent gang fights, and the whole team became fast friends.
NEDS (Tribeca Film)
Throughout I kept thinking, this is rough, gritty Glasgow?! How beautifully for once this city is portrayed, lush and green, hilly and gentle amidst such unrest and anger of her disenfranchised youth. A Glasgow obviously known and beloved by Mullen.
Peter Mullen is a fine actor, but more importantly he is an exceptional writer and director that we don’t get enough from. His excellent 2001 film, THE MAGDALENE SISTERS still haunts me. He’s a moralist with no sentimentality. He labored for over five years on this script; the result turned from a youth-crime film to one that deals with the arduous journey from boyhood to manhood. There are honest and agonizing moments when you sit on edge just praying to something, someone that this kid can just get past all this. He’s got so much… promise, smarts, ability. Many of us can relate. Somehow perhaps, we’ve all been there in one way or another.
Winner of the Best Film Award at the prestigious San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain as well as Best Actor for first-timer McCarron, NEDS premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and On-Demand this week, opening in cinemas May 13th.
- Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.
Look for NEDS (Trribeca Film On Demand) under your cable system's On Demand section.
Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:
CEREMONY - DEMAND IT
SECRET SUNSHINE - DEMAND IT
WHITE MATERIAL - DEMAND IT
INSPECTOR BELLAMY - DEMAND IT
ALL YOU NEED IS KLAUS - DEMAND IT
THE LOTTERY - DEMAND IT
Tags:movies on demand, vod, tribeca film, neds, coming of age, san sebastian film festival, tribeca, the magdalene sisters, catholic schools, glasgow, peter mullen, london film critics' circle awards, conor mccarron, louise goodall, uk film council, david mckay, scottish screen, evening standard british film awards, teen violence, london film critics' circle awards,