Peter Mullan returns to the 1970’s Glasgow of his youth with NEDS, his third feature as writer, director and star.
The film centers on John McGill, a bright and sensitive young boy about to start secondary school. Before long, social mores and peer pressure turn the John feral, forcing him among the eponymous NEDS, his only form of acceptance.
Despite clearly being influenced by the work of Ken Loach and Shane Meadows, Mullan abandons all the usual inviting genre tropes, instead opting for full-on, stark, discomforting realism, disrupted by the occasional stroke of surrealism, executing it terrifically.
The stark realism lets us, on a one-to-one basis, experience John’s intimidation and harsh, lonely lifestyle. It’s discomforting, but works terrifically in the films favour, highlighting the pernitent inescapability from gang culture in the 1970’s.
McCarron, plucked from obscurity by Mullan, gives a startlingly assured, emotional debut performance as John, convincingly showcasing his downward journey from the giddy heights to the violent, life-altering lows.
NEDS is an intimate, poignant and charmingly peculiar film, remarkably directed by Peter Mullan.