Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,191
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Movie Info

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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Conor McCarron
as John McGill, Age 14
Mhairi Anderson
as Elizabeth
Gregg Forrest
as John McGill (age 10)
Peter Mullan
as Mr. McGill
Greg Forrest
as John McGill, Age 10
Joe Szula
as Benny McGill
Gary Lewis
as Mr. Russell
Marianna Palka
as Aunt Beth
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Critic Reviews for Neds

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (7)

Audience Reviews for Neds

  • May 17, 2014
    I know I say this a lot, but this time I'm hoping it's actually true, I don't have much to say about this film. A coming-of-age film with some pretty dark storytelling. It was certainly a little surprising in how dark it gets, it's not Irreversible or Martyrs dark, but it is a pretty interesting story about a boy, whose family's reputation, plus the fact that he's been victim to emotional and physical abuse from those around him, have made him into the monster everyone expected him to be, despite being much smarter than anyone else in his family. John is certainly portrayed, as the film progresses and his ruthlessness increases, as a psychopath who's headed down a very violent end if he doesn't change his ways. He negatively influences anyone's life he comes into contact with, escalating with him viciously beating his father with a frying pan, dropping a slab of concrete onto an old bully's head, causing permanent brain damage, and slitting a kid's throat in a gang fight. There's also some pretty strong imagery involving John, in a "drug" induced hallucination, is almost "murdered by Jesus Christ. John then stabs Jesus on the ribs, before finally coming out of his stupor. So if you're very religiously conservative, ie: anything that involves Jesus' image/likeness being used in a negative light, even in a creative setting, insults you, then this scene would piss you off. I found it darkly hilarious. I'm not religious, but if I was, I'd like to think that I'd see the humor in Jesus attempting to kill someone and not take everything so seriously. And this brings us to the ending, most specifically the last shot of the film, where you see John guiding Canta, the bully with brain damage, through a field as they're headed to the zoo. They were left behind as the car they were going in broke down. Basically the last scene sees both of them going through a group of docile lions. The image itself was a little goofy to me, but I get the symbolism behind it. It's basically saying that John has left his violent ways in the past, much like the lions have, as I imagine that their first instinct, when seeing a person, would be to attack or head their way. John's violent instincts, that almost got him killed, have been left in the past. So I get it, it was still a little silly, purely looking at it visually without any context. It just feels out of place in a film like this. It's not exactly incredibly realistic, if it was it'd probably be deliberately paced, but it's a movie that's still grounded in the real world. Seems like it's a major complaint, but it's not. It didn't really change the movie for me, one way or another. The acting is strong, but Conor McCarron certainly does a great job here. I think he's a little more understated than I would've expected. It's definitely a positive as it, very believably, illustrates John's descent into psychopathy as his actions start getting increasingly more violent. So it looks like I DID have a lot to say about this film, shit. Anyway, not the best coming-of-age film I've ever seen, but a damn good one nonetheless with some great acting and good storytelling.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2012
    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.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2012
    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 <i>Neds</i> 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 03, 2012
    Even after graduating primary school with all sorts of honors and awards, young John McGill(Greg Forrest) finds moving on to the next level no easy task, what with Canta(Gary Milligan) threatening him with bodily harm. Well, that's what big brothers are for, especially one as feared as John's brother Benny(Joe Szula) who takes care of the problem very efficiently. Sadly, John's headmaster thinks he will follow in his brother's footsteps, deciding not to place him in the top class like he feels he deserves. In any case, it takes John just a few months to prove him wrong. As a teenager, John(Conor McCarron) continues to get good grades on the way to university. And then... With his latest film, "Neds," Peter Mullan(he also has a small role as John's abusive father) takes his fimmaking to another level visually to complement the power of his words, with an ending that is more metaphorical than anything else. In fact, there are no speeches in this exploration of the working class teen culture of 1970's Glasgow. The central question is if somebody as smart as John cannot escape, then is there any hope for anybody else?(In an early scene, I get the feeling that his Aunt Beth(Marianna Palka) was wondering if she could smuggle him in her suitcase back to America.) As somebody who is vulnerable, John is corrupted by the allure of violence and power when hanging out with other kids in his neighborhood, without measuring the consequences. At the same time, the teachers here show little interest except keeping order.(To be honest, they teach Latin which I've never gotten close to learning.) There are signs of change over time, but none come close to challenging the local class order.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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