Film Review – Filth (2013)

Filth - post

Title – Filth (2013)

Director – Jon S. Baird (Cass)

Cast – James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Potts, Jim Broadbent, Martin Compston

Plot – It’s Xmas time in Scotland and all depraved cop Bruce Robertson (McAvoy) can think about is getting his unit’s promotion at any costs. Drugs, alcohol, women and holidays with his only friend Bladesey (Marsan) might however get in his way as will his ever decreasing mental state.

“You see, there’s something wrong with me”

Review by Eddie on 7/4/2014

Look, if you think you’ve seen bad law enforcement officers before think again! For they have nothing on Scotsman Bruce Robertson. Bruce is a man that makes Harvey Keital’s titular lieutenant look like Mother Theresa or Woody Harrelsen’s David Brown like some type of petty crook, make no doubt about it people for better or worse Bruce Robertson runs Filth and makes Jon S. Baird’s seriously dark tale a must watch no matter how deep down the rabbit hole it goes.

A role unlike anything else in James McAvoy’s CV allows the actor to produce what could well be his most committed and intense performance of his career. There is barely a scene in the film that doesn’t feature McAvoy and the range of emotions and scenarios he finds himself in takes a special performance to pull off, but he nails it. Bruce is tormented both internally (in the form of a particularly nasty tape worm amongst other things) and outwardly by his obsession with getting a promotion and generally backstabbing anyone he can to make sure this comes to fruition. That Bruce becomes likeable somehow is beyond all better judgement but McAvoy pulls it off and even though his character does some truly despicable things (an early scene involving a young teen springs to mind) it never seems like there is not a glimmer of humanity left within. Other actors in the piece all do fine jobs with the ever reliable Jamie Bell good as fellow lawman Ray Lennox and the always fantastic Eddie Marsan as nebbish accountant Bladesey a continual highlight of the picture.

Director Jon S. Baird obviously relishes adapting Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh’s darkly comic material and his direction of Filth showcases a great energy and feel for the original source. The editing, the loud and varied music choices that complete the tone and the script all seem perfectly handled which is a minor miracle considering just how morally bankrupt a lot of the picture is. It’s also a brave decision by Baird to not sugar-coat any of the themes within the movie and never manipulating the audience to feel sympathy for Bruce but merely just grabbing them by the throat and asking them to stare straight into the soul of a troubled man.

Not everything in Filth works and in many ways it could be seen as a slight tale but when it gets it right it’s thoroughly entertaining in all the wrong ways and features a wildly inspired performance from James McAvoy who of late has been wafting through some pretty mundane roles. Expect to be offended and expect to be enthralled by this flawed yet unique bit of filmmaking depravity.

3 and a half photocopiers out of 5

18 responses to “Film Review – Filth (2013)

    • For me mate it might just be this one! I did think his performance in Atonement was very good also the Last King of Scotland was good. What about you mate?

      • Atonement is definitely up there for me. I really liked him in trance and wanted. But I gotta go with his professor x. The days of future past trailers are making me tear up! Great actor

  1. “Thoroughly entertaining in all the wrong ways”; that’s an almost perfect description of this film. I have a wee crush on Jamie Bell, so his role in Filth was surprising to say the least. (I felt soooo sorry for his character during the photocopier scene!) I agree with what you say about McAvoy. He’s kind of been ambling through standard roles lately, so it’s refreshing to see him play such an uncomplicated monster.

    • Your right man he seemed to have been in a little bit of a lull maybe this was the perfect one for him to break that and do something really full of energy!

  2. Great review, I really can’t wait to watch Filth. It sounds great, and McAvoy is a guy I’m really starting to believe in

    • His a very different actor isn’t he mate – seems to have a good range of big budget projects and smaller films in his agenda as well. This was a great turn by him.

  3. An unfortunate score for a film that is among my top ten, it took me by surprise in every way, and in twenty years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were considered a British Film classic.

      • Naturally, I have a keen respect for you two, always open minded and equally comprehensive. I totally understand why it has your rating, just a shame it doesn’t align with my verdict! Haha, good write-up per usual, lads.

      • I can’t wait for more people to discover it through the years it will be one that slowly gains more and more rep. Cheers for the kind words bud.

  4. I LOVED everything about Filth. It really was testament to McAvoy’s performance that he managed to inject humanity and create empathy for such a reprehensible, repulsive character.

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