Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Netflix Streaming Review - 'Neo Ned' (Neo-Nazi Falls For Black Woman Who Thinks She's Hitler)

Shadow and Act By Malcolm Woodard | Shadow and Act July 30, 2013 at 7:16PM

On its surface, and in its most basic form, Neo Ned might sound like a Monsters Ball retread - a young black single mother gets romantically involved with a racist white man. But will digging further reveal more?
6
Neo Ned

On its surface, and in its most basic form, Neo Ned might sound like a Monsters Ball retread - a young black single mother gets romantically involved with a racist white man. But will digging further reveal more?

The titular Ned (played by Jeremy Renner) is laden with enough emotional baggage to totally destroy any human soul. As a child, he saw his racist, irresponsible father incarcerated indefinitely; he's shopped from one foster home to the next, including one suicidal family, who almost kill him. Ned never quite had a real family, and like most young adults with his history and desires, he clings to any group that wants and accepts him - even if it's made up of neo-Nazi skinheads who commit race-crimes, as is the case in Neo Ned.

We've heard of the hooker with the heart of gold; In Ned's case, switch "hooker" with "skinhead." But he's also quite nutty, unpredictable, and prone to irrational behavior, although balanced with moments of calm, reason, and even love, encouraging, but not necessarily demanding that you empathize with his plight. But for the story to work, the audience has to. Although, oddly, despite his mercurial nature, his actions are largely predictable, if only because we've seen this character make-up before; he's cliched. And that makes the story less of a mystery.

Even when he starts to fall for Gabrielle Union's character (Rachael), in that kind of innocent, pubescent way that I think we can all recall (though both of them are adults), we aren't surprised. For her part, Union mostly holds her own; although, having been relegated to mostly rom-com fluff leading up to this, she wasn't always entirely believable here, and there were moments when I felt like I could actually see her working the lines, as opposed to embodying, and disappearing into the character. But the overall attempt was a decent one, and it's good that she took on a role unlike anything she'd ever previously played.

Her character is also loaded with oodles of emotional baggage; specifically, she was molested as a young girl, by a family portrait photographer - a white man, by the way. She has a daughter of her own, who's being taken care of by her grandmother, as Rachael heals in a facility for the emotionally unstable - which is where she first meets Ned. And, by the way, she believes that she's the reincarnation of Hitler, and his soul lives within her; she frequently spouts out German prose, much to the delight of Ned - a somewhat indoctrinated neo-Nazi himself.

But no one is really who they say or believe that they are, as each is essentially hiding behind a facade as a defense mechanism. As the layers covering both are gradually pulled back, we see that underneath each patina of shit, lie 2 vulnerable, unhappy, lonely people, who really just want what they've never really had for much of their lives - to belong to a stable unit - and they find that in each other, however uncertain it is.

It's Jeremy Renner's/Ned's show all the way - obviously, since his name is in the title of the film; and Union's character is there to serve his. It's about his transformation, his growth, and she's the pivot. Even though their meeting at the facility was purely coincidental, it did seem planned; as if everyone else was in on the joke, except Ned, in a Truman Show-esque way.

In the end, Ned demonstrates his love for Rachael, in an act of altruism, with fatal consequences. Childhood demons are revisited and eliminated - literally.

This film was made 9 years ago, long before Jeremy Renner's Oscar-nominated role in The Hurt Locker, and his performance in Neo Ned was sound. I believed him as this emotionally unstable young man, searching for some stability. Union showed that she can pull off something more challenging than the usual, if given the opportunity to do so; granted, as I said, she wasn't consistent in her performance.

It's a scrappy little film; atmospheric, with its mostly dark, saturated colors, and mood music. And there are some genuinely funny, quirky moments delivered by Renner in that offbeat, "indie-drama" way.

Almost any film made after 1975 that takes place mostly in a mental institution will likely be compared to Milos Forman's multiple award-winning One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest. But Neo Ned isn't at all trying to be that film, thankfully. Given such a bizarre premise, director Van Fischer really could have dug deeper and created something much more exhilarating and thought-provoking with Neo Ned. But this was a respectable start.

Overall, a decent flick, even though predictable and cliched; but it had enough to keep me engaged for much of its 97 minute running time.

I'd say see it once, but no rush.


Neo Ned by skinandbones

This article is related to: Gabrielle Union


Shadow & ActNewsletter