Filth (2013)

Filth (2013) PosterA Filthy Experience

A bipolar, bigoted junkie cop manipulates and hallucinates his way through the festive season in a bid to secure promotion and win back his wife and daughter.

Christmas. Traditionally in films, it's known as the most wonderful time of the year. A time where Santa Claus delivers presents to good children, where broken families are mended because 'tis the season, and where young males get kisses from the girl of their dreams. And yet, it has become somewhat of a tradition to have bad things happen to protagonists around this wonderful time. The blame can be placed upon Shane Black, for beginning the trend with his script for Lethal Weapon, allowing for many other films to have their characters go through the wringer when they should be sitting by the fireplace eating cookies and watching Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer. Die Hard and Bad Santa are more prominent examples, while Shane Black can be blamed for continuing on the tradition with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and this year's superhero flick Iron Man 3.

The latest film adapted from a book by Scottish author, Irvine Welsh, sets the tone by showing a scantily clad narrator walking past a man dressed as Santa Claus, who is busy urinating on the steps of an underpass, and into the sight of a teenagers murder. Not exactly what spells out 'Christmas spirit'.

This is the 3rd film of the year that James McAvoy has played the lead role in, and with passing each film, his character is less sympathetic than the last. In Welcome To The Punch, he was a hardened cop tracking down his nemesis to nurse his bruised ego, while in Trance he was an art thief, with a dark twist to his character. Bruce Robertson is a role unlike anything McAvoy has done before. He is bigoted, misogynistic and homophobic, a man who thinks too highly of himself and is just as willing to spread animosity between his colleagues as he is to blackmail an underage girl into giving him oral sex. He's not a character who you're asked to like, just to indulge him and follow this decaying creature on his maddening quest for promotion. It is a testament to McAvoy's acting abilities that, despite not having any redeeming features, he somehow manages to carry over his general likability while doing an astounding transformation into this character.

The staring contest intensified...

Jamie Bell's latest role gives the most compelling argument to do away with the child dancer image Billy Elliot gave him, as he takes on the role of Bruce's colleague, DS Ray Lennox, a constant cocaine user who suffers from an affliction which Bruce is more than willingly to exploit in front of the secretary that Ray is trying to sleep with. Eddie Marsan plays the naivety of Clifford Blades well, a man who mistakenly believes Bruce to be his friend, but cannot see how he's constantly bullying him and taking advantage of him.

The film is packed with many riotous moments of black comedy and some dark moments as Bruce loses his grip on reality, but what's astounding is, despite how truly a terrible person Bruce Robertson is, the poignant moments truly make you feel sympathy for him. Jon S Baird does a perfect job in balancing these tonally different moments and making the transition between them feeling seamless, akin to the great balance Danny Boyle held with Trainspotting (my only mention of that film, I swear).

Whether you love it or hate it, Filth is one of the more unique experiences you'll find this year. James McAvoy gives a career best performance in this dark film that has a great balance between its comedy and heartfelt moments. Stay for the end credits sequence.


Zachary Marsh said…
Great review man! I really can't wait for this to come to the US!