Usually, movies about corrupt detectives who do drugs are pretty grim but that is not the case with Filth. No, Filth is very different. Perhaps even too different but more about that later. For now, let’s focus on what this movie’s about. We will be following Bruce, a troubled cop who will stop at nothing to get the promotion he desires. First of all, I want to say I like that Filth has a coherent main story. I mean, it would fall apart without it but still. Secondly, the atmosphere is very fun and vibrant which makes it really easy to watch. Especially when you realize the running time is just ninety minutes. And finally, the cast did a terrific job. Apart from James McAvoy we also have Eddie Marsan and Jamie Bell carrying the story and the supporting cast was simply magnificent.
However, apart from being a fun and fast-paced movie, Filth is really not that good. It tries so hard to be authentic and edgy that it becomes just a mess of weird events held up by that flimsy main story. And yes, I’m still talking about Bruce’s promotion. The shifts from surreal imagery to “reality” are sudden and unexpected further confusing the viewer. By the final third of the movie I really didn’t care about anything that was going on. So, all the twists and reveals came off as pretentious and flat. And yet there’s strange potency in all these subjects. You can feel that this movie had potential. Probably because it’s based on Irvine Welsh’s 1998 novel of the same name. Yes, the same Welsh who wrote nineties cult classic Trainspotting.
Meet Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, a simple man who enjoys the ordinary things in life. Drugs, alcohol, kinky sex, and everything else you might think of. But the thing he craves the most is that juicy promotion. The promotion he’s going to get no matter what, so he sets off on a scheming, manipulating, and insane journey to make it happen.
Filth seems like that movie that that wanna-be edgy and progressive guy you know would like. It explores a lot of current issues but in a pretty clumsy and awkward way. Like it somehow just used them to construct this stranger than fiction story. McAvoy’s performance was the thing that saved it from becoming just a complete mess. I recommend you check out Atomic Blonde for another one of his trademark performances. As someone who enjoys debauchery as much as the next guy, I really couldn’t hate a movie with so much alcohol, sex, and drug use. And I have to admit that after the second viewing, things kind of settle when it comes to the story. You can enjoy it more and explore different elements of it, so it’s not all bad. It’s just weird.
And finally, if you’re looking for a much darker movie with the same subject, Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant is a must. You also might wanna check out Hyena if you want to stick around the same area as it’s set in London.
Director: Jon S. Baird
Writers: Jon S. Baird, Irvine Welsh
Cast: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots, Kate Dickie, Shirley Henderson, Pollyanna McIntosh, Jordan Young
Fun Facts: James McAvoy revealed in an interview that he would drink up to half a bottle of whiskey every night so that his character looked rough and hungover.