Friday, 3 August 2012

filmbore pick of the week - Neds

Neds Peter Mullan
Screenplay: Peter Mullan
Starring: Conor McCarron, Greg Forrest, Joe Szula, Peter Mullan
Year: 2010
Language: English
UK rental release: May 2011

Rotten Tomatoes

Nearly two months ago, I was raving about the outstanding performance of Peter Mullan in Paddy Considine's debut behind the lens, Tyrannosaur (see the review here). This week, however, I'll be talking about Mullan's ability in the filmaker's chair, with one of his few directorial efforts, Neds (Non Educated Delinquents).

Over the decades, British cinema has produced a plethora of hard-hitting dramas, exposing some of the more violent and grittier elements of our nation. It's ground that's been covered plenty of times, and not always successfully. Don't let this put you off though, as what Mullan has so shrewdly crafted here is an incredibly personal look through the evolution of a young man's exposure to the volatile environment around him, and how such intense occurrences shape him in ways he could never foretell. Mullan has poured influence from his own experiences in 1970's Glasgow, which allows him to portray a genuine look at the lives of a generation that's steaming at their surrounding culture; unable to deter the fate that has been set for them.

Neds reviewJohn McGill is a sharp, young boy with great academic promise. Through a little confusion during his first days at his new secondary school, his destiny starts to take an alternative path. In the years that follow, while pressured by his wayward brother Benny (Joe Szula), and reluctantly responding to repeated events of provocation, he begins to wander down a sinister trail.

But it's when John submits to this way of life, through his inability to avoid a lifestyle so vibrantly celebrated by his elder sibling, where his journey to the dark side accelerates. Territorial gang fights feed John's carnal appetite, as he gradually veers closer to the resultant, untamed nature of his inner psyche. We being to witness a re-birth of  a forthright, powerful young man who, through pride and resilience, will stop at nothing to prove his worth.

This tale is bursting with interesting characters, including an excellent supporting role from Mullan himself as John's father, however it's mainly held together by our lead. Both eras of John's life are played by two newcomers to the movie industry. Greg Forrest portrays him during his earlier school years, and carries a real presence of both integrity and intellect. It's a strong performance from such a young actor. 

But the film really thrives from the casting of Conor McCarron, as he envelops himself into John's teenage period. McCarron is a juggernaut of emotions, with a sometimes subtle, but equally overbearing, exuberance unmatched by most actors of his generation. He handles the metamorphosis of his part with both humility and maturity, and his natural presence is evident in every scene he's in. I'm yet to see him star in anything else, which I think is a real shame. If he is still interested in this business, then someone needs to give him a role now, as I think he has the potential to grow into a brilliant actor.

Overall, this is a great example of good, British film making, and it's wonderful to see a realistic take on stories of this ilk. The unstoppable mutation of our lead hints at mirrors of films like Scarface (1983) but carries a far more tangible progression through it's homegrown physicality and truthful steering by Peter Mullan. It also has a unique vibe, and I feel that in years to come it has the potential to become a piece of cult UK cinema.

Don't forget to leave comments below, tweet me @filmbore or post on my Facebook page here.

No comments:

Post a Comment