Break out the Holy water kids, it’s time to get filthy! Written and directed by Jon S. Baird and based on the Irvine Welsh novel of the same name, Filth isn’t your average slice of movie pie and if it were, it would be the one that Jason Biggs so famously went to town on. James McAvoy shakes off his recent role as Professor X and sinks his fangs into the depraved character of detective Bruce Robertson. He embraces the sexual depravity, drug and alcohol abuse, vile language, bullying, rank sexism and racism of this Scottish cop on the loose.
No one is safe from the depravity of detective Robertson as he attempts to viciously claw his way to the top of the pecking order in his department. The film starts off with the murder of a Japanese student in Edinburgh, but quickly sucks us into the lead character Bruce’s head, taking us on a raucous roller-coaster ride of his messed-up mind. As was the case with Trainspotting, the real events are interspersed with some truly unsettling fantasy sequences. The most memorable of which are those with his Aussie-voiced psychiatrist, played by an unhinged Jim Broadbent. Robertson spends more time screwing over his colleagues and friends than actually investigating the murder mystery at hand. Seeing this man lay waste to everything he touches is like watching a slow-motion train wreck and just when you think the character can’t possibly stoop any lower, he’ll do just that. It’s not long though, before he loses control over this web of deceit that he has so intricately woven and his past comes creeping in to take it’s toll on his sanity. The question is: can he keep his grip on reality long enough to disentangle himself from the filth?
McAvoy is the anti-hero you deserve, but he may not be the one you need right now. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’re in the mood for. This dark gem may resonate more with you personally than all the other blockbuster fodder that’s being jettisoned into cinemas at the moment.
The Bottom Line
Fans of Trainspotting will no doubt get a kick out of all the chaos that unfolds as McAvoy’s coke snorting, manipulative movie monster is unleashed. The film’s success is not only owed to the astonishing performance of it’s lead actor, but also to it’s seemingly-reckless editing and schizophrenic soundtrack. In terms of style, it’s quite similar to that of McAvoy’s recent film Trance, which is not surprising seeing as it was directed by Danny Boyle (who also directed Trainspotting). Beyond praise for the film though, it’s hard to really recommend it to most people. To do so with a clear conscience would be like recommending the seediest, filthiest nightclub to a friend – promising them a great time. Watching it feels like a bit of a guilty pleasure and you’re left with the need for a good scouring afterwards to cleanse yourself of the experience. Sure, the film tries to wring some empathy from it’s viewers for this sick, twisted soul but those moments felt few and far between in this non-stop barrage of depravity. The final reveal brings us full circle, although the pay-off might be a tough pill for some to swallow.
Ultimately this film is not for the faint of heart, but it does exactly what it says on the tin. There are more depraved sexual antics packed into this brisk 1 hour and 30-odd minutes than you’d probably witness in an entire season of Game of Thrones. Whether you dare to take the plunge and stare into the abyss where detective Bruce Robertson’s heart once was is ultimately up to you. That being said, t’s not all mash and no bangers though. There are some funny moments to revel in for those of us with a warped sense of humour, but for every laugh there is to be had, we get about ten karate chops to the conscience as well. Fans off McAvoy with a high tolerance for gratuitous acts will no doubt get a kick out of his powerhouse performance here and fans of the book will also find much to enjoy. The masses however will most likely avert their gaze from it and shell out money for tickets to Spiderman or Godzilla instead.