The title is an acronym for ‘Non-Educated Delinquents’. (But you wouldn’t dare call them that to their faces.) NEDS paints a terrifying picture of
in the seventies. Glasgow
John McGill (Connor McCarron / Gregg Forrest) has been a promising student from a young age, but the society in which he lives is seemingly wrecking any hopes of a bright future. His big brother Benny (Joe Szula) has a reputation for violence and his dad (Peter Mullan) is a good example of how not to be a father or husband. His classes are so dysfunctional school actually aids his progress down the wrong path. It’s not long before John gets in with the wrong crowd.
Peter Mullan is a hell of a talent. Not only is he a powerful presence on screen but he’s also a very good director. Did I mention he can write, too? The script is outstanding. Instead of aiming for social realism he has achieved something more cinematic while still maintaining authenticity. It is tragic, funny, at times surreal, but most of all, it’s downright scary. It’s not just the knife-wielding thugs that are scary either. The teachers appear to have received their training in hell. It’s not the casual (and constant) corporal punishment that’s so unpleasant. Some of the mental cruelty is unfathomable.
Pretty much all of the younger cast members are novices but the director elicits great performances from all of them. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all local boys and girls, scouted by Mullan. I don’t doubt they all bring a bit of their own life experience to the roles.
If you watch the DVD, be sure to check out Peter Mullan’s London Film Festival master class - a cut above your usual extras. Mullan is wonderfully unpretentious. He’s funny, self-deprecating and tough - like the characters in his film, you’d know better than to mess with him.