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John McGill is a promising student at a tough Glasgow school who, despite a family background of alcoholism and abuse, looks set to sail into university and a bright future beyond. That is, until things begin to go wrong at school and John, like his older brother before him, slips into the heady and dangerous world of Glasgow's gangland.
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Critic Reviews for Neds
A stringent street psychodrama in which brutality is an infection and every male is a carrier.
First-timer McCarron is never less than convincing as a baby-faced brute who can elicit a stranger's sympathy as easily as he can inflict devastating comeuppance.
It's a personal, affecting and pleasingly unusual film, a little too long perhaps and unwieldy in its final stages, but never less than shocking, powerful and utterly relevant.
There's a sense of inevitability about things, certainly, but it seems less written in the stars than unhappily scratched onto the kerb with a flicknife by John himself.
... Despite its bold efforts to the contrary, it ultimately becomes a dehumanising experience and apology for self-ruination.
Kudos to Peter Mullan for this fine bit of history and excellent social commentary.
Neds opens with the sort of celebratory moment that makes you think for a moment that things might be all right.
Mullan is smart enough not to close his subject off; many questions remain, and true to the nature of social mobility, little is ever solved quickly.
While it's beautifully shot in period style and features terrific performances from the largely non-professional cast, this film struggles to get us involved simply because there isn't much we can grab hold of.
This angry film is a forceful slice of life, clearly indebted to the realism of Ken Loach, in whose My Name Is Joe Mullan starred, and to whose Kes it nods.
I's darkly humorous and strongly atmospheric but not especially surprising, a misjudged hallucinatory encounter with Jesus notwithstanding.
A dark, evocative, hard-hitting piece of film-making leavened by flashes of sly wit, a great eye for period detail and a sound ear for authentic dialogue.
It's arguably too long and there's a touch of self-mythologising but with compelling flashes of rage and nauseous black comedy, and some brilliant and bizarre images...
A slathering, rabid beast of a movie, Neds is a hellish trip through 70s Glasgow as seen through the eyes of a teenage ne'er-do-well.
It's an oddity in his work that he lures us into grittily realistic drama only to dilute its potency with outlandish non-realistic imagery. The humanity and seriousness of his film-making, however, have made him an unignorable force for good.
It's usually desirable to avoid behaviour of this nature, but miss out on NEDS and you'll be kicking yourself.
Just when you thought British cinema was in danger of stalling in its default mode - classy crowd-pleasing, with award-worthy millinery - along comes Neds to give it a rude and vital kick up the rear.
Audience Reviews for Neds
A rough and tumble tale of how a bright boy can fall from grace through no obvious fault of his own, forced to go it alone in an environment where gangs of dead-end, aimless boys rule the streets. I thought the hero, John, was inconsistently characterized, but overall, for a movie with an evident message, I thought this was very good, and it even got away with a surreal twist toward the end. Solid, down-in-the-dirt, believable film-making.More
A young Scot descends from intellectualism to the brutality of street gangs in the early 70s.
I think there's no doubt that there's a sense of realism to this portrayal of street life in Scotland. But what motivates the protagonist as he oscillates between his two identities - street tough and bright student - remains a mystery throughout the film. It creates an uneven quality to the character and the film as a whole.
However, the performance by Conor McCarron is fantastic, and some of the details, like Mr. McGil's "I want you down here" screams and the scenes of violence, scream verisimilitude. The story avoids cliches by creating a sense of ambivalence on John's part.
Overall, watching Neds is an intense and ultimately rewarding experience even if one never quite gets to know what makes these characters tick or where they're going after the film is over.
Peter Mullan does Ken Loach with a hint of directional influence from Kubrick and Peckinpah. Sounds good doesn't it, well luckily it is. Nick Love and the people responsible for the Kidulthood films and their ilk please take note, I would even suggest that this is better than Made in England in many respects. It is bound to resemble Made in England/Made in Britain/Scum among others but it seems a little less affectionate, less attached. Don't get me wrong, Scum isn't a love story but the phrase 'I'm the daddy now' has been uttered more than once since its release. At times, I was reminded more of films such as Taxi Driver and Kes, but I digress. Mullan really does show the pointlessness and also the repetitive cycle of violence between estates and he does so in his own no nonsense style, and yet, he also goes completely nuts with it too. At times you wonder if you're watching the same film as it gets pretty surreal at times but it is all the better for it. I thought the end scene was awesome, a perfect finish to a wayward journey, totally original but with rich influence, please don't leave it so long between films Mr. Mullan!More
Following up the quality of "The Magdalene Sisters" was always going to be difficult for writer/director Peter Mullan and although he achieves a similiar hard-hitting authenticity with "Neds", he fails to deliver
a complete, satisfactory retelling of youthful gang culture.
Glasgow 1973; the streets are filled with knife-wielding thugs. Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place is aspiring teenager John McGill (Conor McCarron). He's ambitious and bright, but held back by an alcoholic father at home and an older brother whose terrifying legend shadows his every step. Social mores and peer pressure turn the young McGill feral, his brooding, bubbling anger rushing to the surface in an orgy of bloody violence.
Mullan knows the time, the people and the city very well, which undoubtedly comes across with his choice of music, his eye for the style of the 70's and brilliant use of Glasgow locations. He also assembles an impressive cast of young, unknown Scottish actors who deliver natural dialogue and excellent performances. I could identify with the characters, their behaviour and the politics of gang culture. This is a portrait of a very real problem that still exists in Glasgow today but despite the realism and attention to detail, Mullan makes the same mistake he did with "Orphans" and injects it with surreal moments, that don't contribute anything positively to the story and only serve as a realisation that he has an egotistical dellusion of his own artistic merit. The film has a lot going for it in terms of it's astute and accurate portrayal of these times, however, it's ruined by the unsure progression of the main character and as a result, the film ends rather ridiculously, not really knowing how to end.
Mullan's attempt at profundity just falls flat but as a portrayal of Glasgow gang culture it's very observant and accurate. It's just a shame that the ending reeked of desperation.
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