Filth (2013)

Director:  Jon S. Baird
Cast:  James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Imogen PootsEddie MarsanJamie Bell 
Plot:  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.

Genre:  Comedy / Crime / Drama
Awards:  -
Runtime:  97min
Rating:  R21 for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, language and some violence.

“Same rules apply.”

I suspect Bruce Robertson doesn’t like to eat pork.  The main character of Filth is an alcoholic, drug-addict and sex-obsessed police inspector who desires a promotion, if only for redemption to win back his wife and daughter who have left him. 

Played for both comic and dramatic effect by the wildly talented James McAvoy, Bruce is a fascinating character for as long as it lasts.  It doesn’t last long by the way. 

Filth starts off well with sleek cinematography and witty dialogue only to throw itself off the roof after thirty minutes or so.  It just couldn’t engage, descending into tepidity and false enthusiasm.  That is just my opinion.  You may enjoy it far more than me. 

Let’s get back to the piggy issue.  I think Bruce doesn’t like to eat pork because he is delusional and often sees his colleagues and friends with pig heads.  It can be frightening, functioning as jump scares more appropriate for a cheap horror B-movie.  It keeps viewers unnecessarily on edge, which doesn’t help them to focus on the narrative and character, though by that time there is simply little to be interested in. 

Filth is written and directed by Jon S. Baird, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.  It is only his second feature, after Cass (2008), a movie about racism and violence that I think very few have heard of. 

McAvoy’s performance is outstanding, but he just couldn’t save the movie.  The problem is two-fold.  First, the script is inconsistent.  It tries to portray the mind of a bipolar and sick person, but expends too much effort and time on showing rather than implying it. 

The supporting characters also feel like fringe players, which brings us to the second point – Jim Broadbent's psychiatrist character so very crucial in playing against Bruce's overactive mind becomes what seems like a caricature of himself in The Iron Lady (2011) – kooky, irritating and excessive.

In some way, Filth suffers from similar problems that plague the Meryl Streep movie.  The final scene is a nice touch though, inevitable and disturbing.  If only what transpires before is more involving, this could have been an underrated gem from the UK.

Verdict:  Stylish and witty for a short while before it descends into tepidity and false enthusiasm.


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