While White Irish Drinkers fails to dramatically animate a teenager's struggle for independence, NEDS (which stands for Non-Educated Delinquents) drags a similar drama to the edge of the abyss. It's also about boys maturing into young men in the 1970s. There's a similar sense of social stagnation and institutional failure in its working-class setting in Glasgow, Scotland, but Peter Mullan's film delves into fascinating and troubling dysfunction and redemption.
John McGill (Conor McCarron) is a very bright young student who finds his academic dreams overshadowed by his older brother's reputation. As he navigates the school system, he must prove himself to teachers who seem to punish him for his older brother's hooliganism. School bullies and gang members swiftly turn from predators to protectors when they learn his name. Eventually, he comes to value acceptance in their circles. He starts rebelling in school to impress them, and that's when the film takes off. He's drawn in different directions — standing up for his band of juvenile delinquent friends and his family name, protecting his mother from his drunken father and avenging his own mistreatment. McGill is fairly silent about most of his actions, and it adds to the tension of the film and his strange odyssey. Mullan's film is both powerful and disturbing, and it arrives at a conclusion cast in suddenly religious overtones. Tickets $7, $6 students/seniors, $5 Zeitgeist members. — Will Coviello
Thru June 9
9:15 p.m. through June 9 (except June 7)
Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 827-5858; www.zeitgeistinc.net