Filth (2013)

FilthBruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is in line for a promotion, and barring unforeseen circumstances he’s the clear favourite, putting him ahead of Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell), Amanda Drummond (Imogen Poots) and Peter Inglis (Emun Elliott). Cue unforeseen circumstances. Things start to go wrong when, on top of leading a murder investigation, Bruce is tasked with identifying the prank caller who’s been harassing the wife of Registrar General for Scotland’s Office Bladesey (Eddie Marsan) — a job complicated by the fact that he himself is the culprit. Under ever increasing pressure, and struggling with a number of psychological issues and addictions, Bruce begins to unravel, little helped by the unorthodox efforts of his Australian psychiatrist (Jim Broadbend).

If there was an award for best trailer of 2013 so far it would undoubtedly go to Filth, with the tongue-in-cheek 12A teaser making a joke out of the little available child-friendly footage and yet still hinting at one of the most outrageous, surreal and entertaining films of the year. Since Trainspotting, in fact — the last Irvine Welsh adaptation to get the balance just right.  The highlight of the adverts was arguably Jim Broadbent, who chewed the scenery as an Antipodean psychoanalyst who — judging by the accent — might have walked in from the set of a Fosters advert.

Unfortunately, Filth is not as outrageous, surreal or entertaining as the promotional material would have you believe. Many of the most memorable images are wasted in the first few scenes, relegated to dream sequences and unimportant imaginings, while Jim Broadbent has little to do but re-enact the scenes you’ve seen before every other movie for at least the last two months. The film is sick, twisted and decidedly un-PC, but it lacks the colour and playfulness that could have made it enjoyable, too. A discordant and juxtapositional soundtrack might work to offset or subvert the content, but it is neither as clever, cheeky or as punchy as it thinks it is.

That’s not to say that the film is without merit, as the performances are exceptional almost without exception. James McAvoy gives Bruce Robertson his all, wasting no time in a futile attempt to make himself sympathetic and instead channeling his full energies into making the character as vile, reprehensible yet undeniably compelling as physically possible. As established, Broadbent is a delight whenever he’s onscreen, while Imogen Poot, Jamie Bell and Eddie Marsan make impressions completely disproportionate to their minimal screentime. Filth has actors to spare, with Iain De Caestecker, Kate Dickie and Shirley Henderson left to fight over scraps.

Like Trainspotting, Filth is an extraordinarily unlikeable story full of the sort of reprehensible characters that you’d usually cross the road to avoid. Unlike Trainspotting, however, and despite a superior trailer, it lacks the directorial verve and editorial punch necessary to create the illusion of entertainment. It’s certainly filthy, but not at all gorgeous.



About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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