May 28, 2011 No Comments

by Jolyn Wagner

Peter Mullan’s gritty and heartwrenching film begins sweetly with a fresh-faced Scottish schoolboy John McGill graduating middle school filled with dreams and ambition.  John is intelligent, sensitive and wants to write. He  appears at low risk to become a “non educated delinquent-NED” l like his older brother.  His descent into adolescent brutality and doom create a film that is mesmerizing.  1970’s Glasgow provides the backdrop as our ruddy-faced protagonist “learns” of the tools of survival.  Violence shapes young John’s  world–drunken father(played byMullan himself) , arbitrarily cruel teachers and idealized sociopathic older brother-and John attempts to shape his world through his own acts of increasingly brutal violence-.  Is there anyway out?  Mullan’s earlier film, The Magdalene Sisters, exposed an equally dismal view of  convent living…There is a surprisingly lyrical handling of the subject matter which prevents the film from descending into unbearable viewing. (spoiler alert) The hallucinatory knife fight with Jesus is an example of Mullan’s willingness to infuse his subject matter with poetry without fear of losing the tension or punch.  It pays off.  Some might see connections with Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting(Mullan was an actor in the film).. Pay close attention to the filim’s final scene….are there chards of hope or mockery?  Is it just a jungle out there or can art and relationships transcend the pain?  This film may not be released in theatres in our area, but is furtunately available On Demand via Comcast…check it out or find a friend who has On Demand…don’t miss it!

Must See Movie of the Week

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