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Filth - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JAMES McAvoy delivers an astonishing central performance in Filth, a bonkers, go-for-broke kind of film that exists to shock and awe.

Based on the equally provocative book by Irvine Welsh (of Trainspotting fame), the film follows one man’s personal descent into hell and refuses to pull any punches along the way. A lot of what unfolds is deeply unpleasant yet also a blast.

Bruce Robertson (McAvoy) is one of Edinburgh’s most dogged cops and on the verge of a promotion until his life begins to unravel while investigating the murder of a Japanese tourist by a group of local thugs.

Yet Bruce is far from your average cop; rather he’s a foul-mouthed, borderline misogynist, borderline racist, sex-addicted, booze-soaked and drug afflicted ticking timebomb haunted by past tragedies that he may not have a hand in. He regularly screws over his friends (or just screws their wives and girlfriends) and takes an equally perverse delight in setting colleague against colleague.

McAvoy plays him in warts-and-all fashion, inhabiting every deviance yet somehow tapping into the faintest hint of humanity, the last remaining shreds of which are highlighted by the strange pull he feels towards the wife (Joanne Froggatt) of a man he tried but failed to save.

It’s a bravura performance and one that somehow combines raw sexuality (even with an outrageous ginger beard) with something repellant and dangerous.

He’s ably supported, too, by the likes of Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Imogen Poots and Eddie Marsan, with the latter especially working overtime to provide the film’s genuine heart and soul.

Jon S Baird’s direction, meanwhile, is fast, quite often surreal, self consciously OTT and nothing short of gripping. There’s a great story at the heart of this film that has some clever secrets up its sleeve, and which elevates it still higher in terms of it’s ability to impress.

It goes without saying that Filth isn’t a film for the easily offended. But for those willing to go with its hedonistic flow, and who enjoy terrific acting and provocative cinema, this is a wild, wild ride that doesn’t stop delivering its punches until the very last second.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 91mins
UK Release Date: October 4, 2013