Filth (2013) Directed by Jon S. Baird. With James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots, John Sessions, Shauna Macdonald and Jim Broadbent.
Adapted from the Irvine Welch novel of the same name, Filth is the second directorial/screenplay offering from talented young Scottish film maker, Jon S. Baird. Of course, being a gritty Scottish drama, crammed with popular music and a large slice of satirical black humour, comparisons with 1995’s Trainspotting will be unavoidable. So, lets get that out of the way…it’s not as good…then again, how many films are?
That said, it still makes for an intriguing watch and is home to a gleefully nasty central performance from James McAvoy, whose initially abhorrent character develops in unexpected ways, supposing you haven’t read the novel. Like Trainspotting, Filth is full of scabrous wit and observations on life, lust and substance abuse – many of them sexist, homophobic and racist. Throughout, the film has the look of a steaming cesspit of all that is wrong with the world, as McAvoys central character, Bruce, goes about setting up his fellow police colleagues with various humiliations in order for him to secure a promotion within the force.
Shot and edited with real panache, the first 30 minutes are a breeze, as the characters are set-up (quite literally) and a jet-black tone of humour is established. Often, though, such is the sheer disagreeable nature of Bruce, that it’s hard to even laugh along with his incessant debauchery.
Thankfully, as hinted throughout the piece, there is a twist, and ultimately, a reckoning in the final third, which saves the film from being a complete glorification of all the things that had come before it. Filth is, however, a film of questionable taste that aims to ruffle as many feathers as it can on its way to being a sordid, cynical story of lust in the fast lane. 3.5/5