dir-scr Peter Mullan
prd Olivier Delbosc, Alain de la Mata, Marc Missonnier
with Connor McCarron, Joe Szula, Peter Mullan, Gregg Forrest, Marianna Palka, Mhairi Anderson, Gary Milligan, John Joe Hay, Gary Lewis, Martin Bell, Linda Cuthbert, Richard Mack
release UK Oct.10 lff
10/UK 2h04
Smart kids: McCarron and Bell

mullan palka lewis
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
NEDs While it's beautifully shot in period style and features terrific performances from the largely non-professional cast, this film struggles to get us involved simply because there isn't much we can grab hold of.

In 1972 Glasgow, young John (Forrest) is a bright spark who certainly will never become a "Non-Educated Delinquent". He lives on a rough estate, and as he heads for secondary school he begins to be targeted by the bullying local gang members. But he keeps his head down, hides behind the fierce reputation of his big brother (Szula) and excels at his studies. Then two years later, John (now McCarron) falls in with a group of thugs who offer him acceptance and camaraderie. Of course his studies start suffering as a result.

Clearly, John knows better than to drift into this darkly violent world, and it's pretty painful to watch him bounce back and forth over the next year, giving in to his inner rage and beginning to lose sight of both the promise of his intellect and his goal to break out of his working class roots and attend university. The problem is that about halfway through the film we realise that this is all writer-director Mullan has to say to us.

This doesn't mean that the film becomes boring. It's gorgeously assembled, with a superb use of music and a gifted young cast. McCarron is especially good in a difficult role, holding the whole movie together and believably depicting John's defiant clashes with his ranting, drunken father (sharply well-played by Mullan). And some surreal filmmaking touches add an inner life to the character, even if the final visual metaphor is a bit obvious.

Essentially, this film teaches us that if you grew up in 1970s Glasgow you're lucky if you made it out alive. And there's not really anything more to it. This is a pity, since the film is so skilfully designed, shot and edited that we want it to resonate on a broader scale. We want to dive into John's story and really feel his pain and frustration, but instead we merely sit back and watch. It's a fascinating story, but while it's constantly emotive, it never moves us.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 20.Oct.10 lff

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