Peter Mullan’s Neds hits hard at San Sebastian 2010
by Boyd van Hoeij
Scottish actor and occasional director Peter Mullan’s latest directorial effort, Neds [+see also:
film profile], had its European premiere in the Official Selection of the San Sebastian Film Festival over the weekend after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival a week earlier. The film, whose title is short for “non-educated delinquents”, tells the hard-hitting story of a good student in 1970s Glasgow whose life turns increasingly violent.
Neds opens in 1973, when Glaswegian youngster John McGill is about to start secondary school. He’s one of the brightest students in his class, but his background works against him: his older brother Benny is a violent and feared gang leader, and his father’s a violent drunk.
Since no one seems to want to give him a chance to do well on his own, and all the authorities seem to have already condemned him for things he did not do, John decides to be who everyone thinks he already is.
Young John is played by two impressive (and well-cast) non-professional actors: Gregg Forrest, and later, Conor McCarron. Both are intense and deliver well-focused performances that are very much of a piece, making the transformation of John believable and real.
Period detail never gets in the way of the universal overtones of the story, while the pared-down score by Craig Armstrong is used sparingly, at just the right moments.
Neds, which is sold internationally by Wild Bunch, is a France/UK/Italy co-production between Fidélité Films, Studio Urania and Blue Light, with backing from New Cinema Fund. It will be released in Spain by Golem.
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