I haven't really watched many (any?) Scottish films but I am familiar with Peter Mullan, having seen his completely depressing TYRANNOSAUR previously. NEDS is equally grim, but also uplifting. It's a film with a nostalgic '70s ambiance and an autobiographical feel, featuring the misadventures of a shy, chubby schoolboy who ends up becoming a fearsome teenage gang member. NEDS is a lengthy, slow-paced and frequently hard-hitting movie that tackles some uncomfortable home truths. It's a little off-putting, with sometimes impenetrable dialogue from the Scots cast and a simmering undercurrent of violence that sometimes erupts on the surface. This is very much a realistic movie that tackles cause and effect without sugar-coating the answers. I found it compelling and often heartfelt, managing to elicit pathos and humour from the grim situation. Conor McCarron delivers a quietly effective turn as the put-upon lead and Mullan himself has a strong supporting role as the frightening alcoholic father. But it's the young cast who really shine in their parts, giving performances so authentic that this feels like a documentary at times.
Encompassed by violent street gangs, neglectful parents, bullying teachers and a dearth of positive role models, a studious but emotionally abandoned kid turns thug.
January 12, 2021