Peter Mullan’s third feature as a writer and director, after Orphans and The Magdalene Sisters, returns him to the 1970s Glasgow of his youth, although the Trainspotting and My Name is Joe actor stresses that Neds (which stands for ‘Non-Educated Delinquents’) is ‘personal but not autobiographical’.
We meet confident, studious John McGill just as he’s about to start secondary school, where he fully expects to continue his so-far glittering academic career. But there are dark clouds on the horizon. His friendship with middle-class Julian shines a light on both his poor background and the dysfunction of his home, where his father is drunk, violent and ineffective, his mother is troubled and repressed and his elder brother is always in trouble with the law. At school, there are one or two good teachers, but most are uninterested and unhelpful in the face of the brutal and territorial gang culture which has spread from local housing estates to the schoolyard.
The uneasy question Mullan poses is whether or not John can transcend the destiny of his class, education and family to make something of himself. Mullan shoots this tense, claustrophobic and violent drama in a style that tips a hat to the 1970s tales of Ken Loach and Alan Clarke. But it’s not all desaturated realism: there are flashes of fantasy that hint at the imagination of Lindsay Anderson, as if Mullan had reimagined If… for the hard-up Glasgow of his youth.
|Cast:||Alex Donald, Conor McCarron, David McKay, Douglas Russell, Gary Lewis, Joe Cassidy, John Joe Hay, Linda Cuthbert, Marcus Nash, Marianna Palka, Martin Bell, Mhairi Anderson, Peter Mullan, Richard Mack, Steven Robertson|
|Country:||France, Italy, United Kingdom|