Image Courtesy of eOne Films
Writer/Dir: Peter Mullan (The Magdalene Sisters)
Cast: Conor McCarron, Richard Mack, Peter Mullan, Marianna Palka, David McKay, Joe Szula, Christopher Wallace
Reason to see: Acclaim and I've really enjoyed Peter Mullan acting in the past
Set in 1970 Glasgow, Scotland NEDS follows John McGill, a smart young boy who isn't given many, or possibly any, chances in life and is continually faced with getting the short end of the stick. He's luck some times is bad and he often being on the wrong end of power dynamic and having no one to look up to.
John is predominately played by Conor McCarron, who does a great job with the character, a boy is often quiet but clearly strong as well as smart. You can feel John's need to grow and do something, to be someone and to be seen all while still maintaining a malleable-ness as he hasn't yet grown into the person he will be yet. It's so tragic to see a character with such drive and intention but with zero support, incentive or role models. No one expects anything from him and he's already shrouded by the shadow of his older brother Benny who is feared by all the local boys. It's amazing to see that actuality of when there is so little to react to or be a part of, people will go wherever the energy is be it good or back. Time after time of being uninvolved, disillusioned, left out, left behind and overlooked eventually do add up and it's heartbreaking to see.
One of the challenges of trying to keep spoiler free on films is that sometimes I'll keep research to a minimum and it this case I wish I went a few steps further. Peter Mullan was certainly the draw here and I've loved every performance I've seen him in from True North at TIFF in 2006 (which I saw twice at the festival, because it was just that good), to Boy A and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. And I thought his performance was great here too, but he's behind the camera as well in the writer/directors chair which is where where I missed a research step as I didn't realize he also brought us the highly acclaimed, tough-set The Magdalene Sisters, which I had a really hard time with. It's not that the films aren't good, they are, but suffering through the limited choices, joyless lives and seeing how easily people can turn to cruelty is almost too much for me to bear. I get it, but I don't always want to see it. Or perhaps I don't feel I need to see it. But, I can easily see how the story can resonate with people and it in any way encourages other people to open the eyes and be kinder and/or provide a catharsis through relateability or otherwise, I can totally understand the bond people have with this film.
I did love the cast, they are a completely energetic rag tag group of guys that get across both visceral nature of the violence in the film just as well as the kids-being-kids silliness, and you can feel the difference between the two energies which is something as an viewer I really appreciated as it feels like we know the line, but perhaps John does not. For the performances, along with Conor McCarron as John and Peter Mullan as Mr. McGill, I also thought Joe Szula as John's brother Benny & Christopher Wallace as Wee T were particularly good and I'll be keeping my eye on what they do in the future.
And one final admission. I watched it with the subtitles on. The accents are awesome and I watch a lot of international film & TV, but my Canadian ears were missing a lot of the words.
- Deleted Scenes (2 scenes, 8 minutes and 4 minutes) one really long extended scene that's great in showing encounter with a different side of adult supervision and indifference and a great scene between John & his brother Benny.
NEDS is available on DVD as of August 23, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it/loved it/didn't love it
I'd watch it again/buy it
I'd recommend it as
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© Shannon Ridler, 2011