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Marina Antunes [DVD News 08.23.11] United Kingdom movie review news dvd drama

Year: 2010
Director: Peter Mullan
Writer: Peter Mullan
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IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

Peter Mullan has always struck me as a smart, gentle man though for the most part, his roles over the years have been far from that. He often plays the failed father figure, a role he seems comfortable in, and his constant appearance in films about youth on the fringes certainly suggests he has some personal interest in youth on the verge of self destruction.

Eight years since the release of the critically acclaimed The Magdalene Sisters, Mullan steps behind the camera for NEDS. Sharing some of the same themes, Mullan's new film stars newcomer Conor McCarron as John, a successful young man with a passion for learning who has kept his nose clean despite his younger brother's fall into gang culture. He's a bit of a geek but when he encounters trouble, John goes searching for his brother who quickly takes care of the situation. On arriving at a new school, John finds himself hanging out with some disreputable characters and eventually leaves behind school to spend his time hanging out with a local gang which gets him into a whole lot of trouble. Eventually he finds his way back to a straight life but it comes at a high cost and a close encounter with murder.

Mullan doesn't shy away from the realities of life in 1970s Glasgow. There's little money in John's family and staying out of trouble in a family where his father drinks too much and his brother hasn't been around the house in years is a day to day effort; get distracted and the fall from grace is quick and painful, clear by how quickly John's passing encounter with the local gang drags him into that world with little regard for his family. It's a violent coming of age tale but John's journey spits him out as an even more determined young man.

NEDS delivers a view at life where everything is rough. From the teachers to his own father, John and the other young men in the neighbourhood seem to have sprouted from hardship, something which comes across even in the language which in and of itself seems abusive with its harsh lilt and yet in this difficult environment Mullan seems to find moments of sweetness: John being praised by his teachers, being doted on by his aunt and even the stolen glances at a cute girl. There's something really intimate about Mullan's storytelling as if he's intimately familiar with this way of life and it comes across beautifully in the film which mixes delicate drama with some intense and unforgettable images, most notably his preparation to kill his father.

NEDS is loaded with great performances including Mullan himself who plays double duty as John's drunk and abusive father, but it's Conor McCarron who steals the show as the large and quiet young man searching for his way in the world.

Troubled youth dramas aren't new but there's something special about Mullan's film which delivers more emotion than other, more dramatic fare. Part of it is his understanding of the pressures and expectations of youth and part is his ability to elicit and capture great performances from his young cast.

I didn't find NEDS as powerful as The Magdalene Sisters but Mullan's follow-up is certainly worthy of a closer look. I hope it doesn't take another eight years for him to step behind the camera again.

NEDS is available on DVD and Blu-ray today.

DVD Extras: A pair of deleted scenes.

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Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

Peter Mullan...

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