NEDS or Non-Educated Delinquents is the third film from actor, writer and director Peter Mullan. It is the story of a bright young Glaswegian boy who is corrupted by his surroundings, turning him into a psychopathic thug. Its lead Conor McCarron plays John McGill, a boy who studies hard and appears to be heading for an illustrious future. As the film progresses, McGill’s personal situation at home along with pressure from the area in which he lives drives him to become a leading member of a local gang and in turn he goes on to commit terrible acts of brutality and violence.
The film has the look and feel of the mid 1970s in which it is set. I don’t know how it was done but the film has the grainy look of a 1970’s TV show and the colour pallet, set design and costumes and all superb. Mullan has also managed to capture the bleak hopelessness of a 1970s
council estate. Apathy is found not only in its youth but also in the adult characters such as McGill’s father, played by Mullan and his teachers. Glasgow
Conor McCarron gives a sublime performance as John McGill, a boy whose boredom and anger lead violence. He is equally convincing as a knife wielding thug as he is as a book-worm school kid. His transformation from the latter to the former is both outstanding and terrifying. The rest of the cast are also very good. McGill’s gang is made up of well defined characters who beef up the feeling of apathy and boredom. The script is convincing and the dialogue sharp and realistic. I must admit to missing the odd word or phrase due to the thick Glaswegian accents which also help to give the film its realism.
NEDS is a fantastic and often brutal look into the world of the 1970s delinquent and has many parallels with the world of the NEDS of today.