Set in 1970s Glasgow, this film tells the story of a shy and intelligent young boy who, through a series of circumstances, turns into a NED – a non-educated delinquent. Attending a new school, he becomes increasingly violent and aggressive, all the while searching for a way out.
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Seeing this before it appeared on MUBI's database means there is a little haziness, but in short - this is a bizarre movie. A story about the spoiling of youth in a city prone to violence and gangs. Although this film is Scotland-specific, its sentiment certainly applies to many other countries in many other decades. There are bizarre moments of violence and at times the plot was a little twisted and senseless.
A grotesque descent into horror culminating with McGill Jr. turning into Freddy Krueger. Corporal punishment, family abuse, architectural monsters, and homoerotic gang camaraderie... A perfect illustration of Mark "Rent-boy" Renton's infamous quote:" It's SHITE being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth!" (Trainspotting).
A comparison to 400 Blows is sacrilege yet a comparison to British 80s exploitation cinema such as Scum is more fitting. Mullen does what every Glaswegian who makes it alive does & half glorifies, half demonises the city here. NEDS fits a plethora of beige, uninteresting, nostalgic British 'YOOF' culture films from the end of the last decade. Violence ensures throughout mindlessly but the final scene is golden. C-
Brilliant and real. No matter how brutal and violent, you're with this character. He got fucked by the system. You can't not love him and want him to win. FANTASTIC cast.
Music by Craig Armstrong, is spot on and the choice of song for the scene on the bridge "I'm in heaven" - wicked, such a good scene.
Mullan is a legend. He makes painful films and just shows us life.
The first half is lovely as young John struggles not to be affected by his brother's reputation and an abusive home life. But somewhere along the way NEDS becomes overwrought. Though McCarron's performance as a teen John is stunning, Neds veers into schlocky horror territory, down to an Edward Scissorhands-esque climax that is punctuated with a synthesizer melody lifted right from Halloween. 3.5
"Ya wanta ned? I'll gie yeh a ned!" This film's verisimilitude is somewhat undermined by the fact that it treats "becoming a ned" as George Lucas treats goodies turning to the dark side. My father vouches for its period authenticity and it's a mostly competent production, but its abandonment of some potentially intriguing threads in favour of Star Wars characterisation renders it standard kitchen sink fare.