Based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh, Filth is a darkly comic/drama/crime film. Fans of Welsh’s book went mad when the lovely James McAvoy was picked for the role of distrubed detective Bruce. Was McAvoy the right choice for the role? And will audiences get Welsh’s story of a mentally unstable and thoroughly horrible main protagonist?
The story revolves around Bruce (McAvoy) a manipulative, homophobic, racist and obnoxious detective who plans to use all his scheming against his fellow officers to secure a promotion while supposedly serving a murder. Along the way he bullies his friend Clifford (Eddie Marsan), makes obscene phone calls to Clifford’s wife and is generally awful to nearly everone he meets.
Ok so that discription may not sound like a fun film to watch, but it’s actually a very funny film. Lots of black humour of course. We see everything from Bruce’s point of view, where he believes he is supirior to everyone else around him and can outwit his colleagues to get a promotion. As the film goes along the humour only gets darker as its obvious Bruce’s view of the world is skewered, and as we go along we realise just how messed up Bruce is.
Essentially this is a film about someone going through a breakdown and is in serious need of help for his mental state. I wouldn’t say Bruce ever becomes a sympathetic character but he becomes more complex as the film continues and you do wish Bruce could get the help he so desperately needs but won’t ever admit.
The film goes between the real world and Bruce’s fantasies, and as it goes on you get the feeling that Bruce’s narration is somewhat unreliable. Director John S. Baird does a great job in switching between these sequences. Some of Bruce’s visions have disturbing images and they are brought to the life really well.
The film has a great supporting cast. Jamie Bell impresses as DS Frank Lennox-the butt of a lot of Bruce’s schemes. Imogne Potts is also strong as DS Amanda Drummond, the single sane person on the force and the only one who can see Bruce for who he really is. Jim Broadbent is also great value turning up in Bruce’s dream sequences as a doctor. However this is James McAvoy’s film. Those who had reservations about him taking on the role of Bruce will be pleasently surprised at how McAvoy embodies Bruce. Ok he may not be the exact physical description of Bruce as described in the book but he clearly enjoys playing someone so distrubed. His Bruce is repellant and amoral, yet you are still willing to follow him on his downward spiral. This is a prime example that a film does not need a likeable protagonist, as long as you make his story interesting and compelling enough for an audience to keep watching.
I doubt there would be any chance McAvoy will be up for an Oscar next year, although he clearly deserves it. Perhaps Filth would have better luck at the Bafta as it deserves to have some recognition.
Rating-3.5/5-dark, disturbing and James McAvoy on top form, if you’re easily offended stay well clear