Neds has flummoxed me.

Clever Scottish youth John degenerates into a psychopathic delinquent in around six weeks. The cinematography is great, the acting with no exceptions is superlative, and the final shot is one of the most remarkable in British cinema for a long time. Every scene in itself is fabulous, and could be used as a perfect showreel for anyone involved.

And yet the narrative is an absolute mess. This is not a clean three act structure, but an experimental, art house piece, and the plots jumps about with virtually no regard for continuity. Characters come and go, loyalties are forged, abandoned and forged again, and there is no real core structure. Some of the directorial decisions are absolutely outlandish.

It's refreshing to see a British social realist piece doing something different. Neds is a far cry from something like The Football Factory or 44 Inch Chest, and the grittiness of everything from the social housing to the schoolyard feels real and harrowing. Yet at the same, this is properly adventurous cinema, something even a classic like This is England cannot say. There is no sign of the "cool baddy" factor that plagues so many of the social pieces produced on this island, and it paints a world no-one would want to live in.

But for me, this simply wasn't enough; the transition from swot to sociopath by the main character is virtually instantaneous and though fascinating in places, his development swings from unbelievable to monotonous with no clear rudder. Some of the crimes he commits are horrific, and John looks seriously mentally ill rather than a victim of circumstance. Of course a protagonist does not have to be good, but by forty minutes in we have lost all sympathy with John, who constantly makes terrible decisions to the point of lunacy. The plot is driven by snap decisions from the characters rather than the situations they end up in, and ends up disjointed and clunky rather than non-linear.

Like last week's Blue Valentine, I feel compelled to bring up the end credits, which are absolutely bizarre. Each actor's name is shown next to a digital photograph of themselves, the kind used for head shots or continuity stills. Each holds a piece of paper with their name on, and many don a goofy grin, showing just how much fun they had making the movie. It is one of the strangest ends to a film I have ever seen, and shatters any suspension of disbelief and emotional investment the film has worked towards. This might seem like a petty point, but I promise you, the whole audience left in a baffled silence.

Neds felt like the most brilliant eight hour miniseries cut down to the bare highlights. What Neds does well, it does very, very well; but the movie is nothing more than a collection of set pieces, which despite some cracking direction, do not fit together.