By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist December 7, 2010 at 2:26AM
Scottish actor Peter Mullan's recently been exposed to a wider audience than ever before by stealing the show in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," but the savvy have been fans of Mullan for years thanks to his outstanding performances in the likes of "Trainspotting," "My Name Is Joe," "Children Of Men," "Boy A" and the "Red Riding" trilogy. But even fans of his acting may not be aware that Mullan was responsible for a couple of very strong directorial efforts, the dark comedy "Orphans" in 1997, and the punishing, but thoroughly excellent "The Magdalene Sisters" in 2002.
He's had a long absence from the director's chair, but Mullan made a comeback this year with "Neds," a semi-autobiographical tale of a promising student who falls in with a violent gang in 1970s Glasgow (the title is local slang, standing for "Non-Educated Delinquents"), which stars a mostly unknown cast led by newcomer Conor McCarron.
It sounds like a familiar story, but the film's picked up enormous acclaim wherever it has played, winning the top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival this year. We unfortunately missed it at the London Film Festival this year, but Guy Lodge at In Contention called it the best British film of the festival, and a new trailer, which has actually been online for some time, but passed us and pretty much everyone else, by, seems to back this up -- it looks pretty terrific, and we're eagerly awaiting its January 21st UK release date (there's no word as yet on US distribution). Check out the trailer, and an official synopsis, after the jump.
"Glasgow, 1973. On the brink of adolescence, young John McGill’s about to start secondary school. He’s a bright boy, a sensitive boy, eager to learn, but the cards are stacked high against him. The McGill family’s dirt poor, his hated father’s a drunken bully. His teachers – punishing John for the ‘sins’ of his older brother Benny – are down on him from the start. John’s on his own.
And then there’s the gangs. The Neds. Non-Educated Delinquents. The bad boys with weapons and attitude: cheap drugs, glam rock, fumbling sex, the violence and the camaraderie of the streets. Local monsters. Local heroes. Benny’s fearsome reputation buys John protection, and then a way in. Scared, resentful, full of rage, John makes his decision. If no one else will give him a chance: f**k them.
John takes to the savage life of the streets with a vengeance. But as his rage and frustration spin him further and further out of control, he is left facing a blank wall. No future. With one extraordinary chance of redemption."