‘Filth’ recently came out in cinemas as the movie adaption of Irvine Welsh’s novel. Irvine Welsh is famous as the author of ‘Trainspotting’. Despite how well received the film ‘Trainspotting’ was, it is rumoured that Welsh has noted ‘Filth’ as the most true-to-his-novel movie adaption to date.
I have broken the plot down into two sections in order to explain it better, but don’t worry this review is spoiler free so keep reading! James McAvoy plays Bruce Robertson, a detective sergeant, serving in the Edinburgh police force. While trying to solve a recent murder enquiry he is competing against his colleagues for a promotion, which he repeatedly refers to as “The Games”. This continual suggestion highlights his light-hearted attitude towards tricking his fellow colleagues, exposing their vices and preying on their crumbling private life in order to boost his own career. The darker side to this narrative is showcased in Robertson’s abusive relationship with women and sex, the exposure of his crumbling home life, his addiction to cocaine and alcohol, memories from his past which come back to haunt him and his physiological well-being which disturbs the fluency of the main narrative, always keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat.
James McAvoy’s performance as Robertson was excellent. He managed to evoke sympathy from the audience while playing a manipulative, sadistic and twisted character. He played alongside a well-cast list of versatile characters that each brought their own quirky mannerisms and divergent lifestyles together to create a surreal but ingenious mix of people on screen.
Surprisingly the director, Jon S. Baird only has one other film in his back catalogue, despite his in-experience I think he pulled something off that a lot of directors would struggle with. In my opinion being at the beginning of his directing career has allowed ‘Filth’ to flourish under the light of a director who still has the zest to be as experimental and daring as Baird has demonstrated. For example he cleverly juxtaposes dark and gritty scenes with jazzy, soft-focus, cabaret-style snippets. It is techniques like this which invite the viewer to become interested and drawn into the film rather than be disgusted at its crudity and its explicit and graphic nature.
‘Filth’ is definitely surreal and not a movie for the faint-hearted. It is a roller-coaster through one mans twisted identity, it is fantastically horrifying and squeamishly funny, undeniably a must-see!