Non-Educated Delinquents Peter Mullan

Non-Educated Delinquents Peter Mullan
A coming-of-age story with a twist, Scottish actor/director Peter Mullan's Non-Educated Delinquents (also known as NEDS) follows not the maturation, but rather the deconstruction of its lead character: prodigy turned psychopath John McGill (played by Conor McCarron as a teenager and Greg Forrest as a pre-teen). Beginning in 1972 on the mean streets of Glasgow, Non-Educated Delinquents provides a grim and grimy look at the struggles of dejected Scottish youth and the pull of gang violence, yet it also never loses its pitch-black sense of humour. While consistently busy as an actor, Mullan hasn't directed a film since his turn helming the controversial The Magdalene Sisters in 2002, which is all too long an absence for someone as confidently assured as he is here. Initially, Non-Educated Delinquents seems like the story of an overachiever rising above his station in life, as the young John is consistently smarter than his peers, scoring 100-percent on exams other students would be gleeful to barely pass. Yet John must prove himself as he advances through school, as most assume he's doomed to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Ben, an infamous delinquent. The first instance of violence John encounters is when he's threatened by a hooded thug named Canta and as he matures, he falls in with the next generation of his brother's gang, Young C-A-D, a group of thick brogued yellers ready to throw down at a moment's notice. Ultimately, John becomes consumed by the violence around him. The film clearly reflects Mullan's childhood. Being the same age as John at the same time, he likely took part in many a street fight, if only to save face and assure social standing. Mullan also appears as the McGill family patriarch, a violent, decrepit drunk guiding the film unflinchingly into deeper, darker territory both as director and actor. While unrelentingly grim, Non-Educated Delinquents manages to never wallow in its brutality. Mullan's gift is to play every scene as though it were on the path to catharsis, and with the help of the uniformly brilliant performances, his characters never come off as purely evil, malevolent or hopeless, despite the awful things they sometimes do. John McGill is a tragic figure for the ages. Besides two alternate versions of key scenes, the DVD also features English subtitles, recommended for even those familiar with the furiously thick working class accents on display. (eOne)