Filth (2013)

Filth (2013)

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This is how they greet each other in Scotland, apparently.
This is how they greet each other in Scotland, apparently.

Twitter Plot Summary: Bruce is up for promotion and trying to solve a crime, whilst falling apart mentally. Busy man.

Genre: Comedy/Crime/Drama

Director: Jon S Baird

Key Cast: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Iain De Caestecker, Joanne Froggatt, Emun Elliott, Jim Broadbent, Shirley Henderson, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, Natasha O’Keeffe, Kate Dickie, David Soul, Ron Donachie, Gary Lewis, Tracy Ann Oberman, John Sessions

Five Point Summary:

1. Nice introduction – offend everybody, especially if you’re Scottish.
2. Jim Broadbent with a MASSIVE forehead. It works.
3. Ladies and gentlemen: Eddie Marsan tripping out!
4. Ahh, things start to become clear – kind of. What’s with the pig?
5. Ooh, a twist! Did you see that coming?

Filth by name, filth by nature. It’s not an easy viewing, but I got a lot from it. The name filth has a number of connotations in this context. It can be seen as a slang term for the police, the sordid nature of events within the film, and also what our man Bruce Robertson (McAvoy) thinks of himself. It’s incredibly multifaceted, and that’s just what we get from the film title. There’s much more to the film itself, to the point where going into any great detail will ruin it. What I can say is this. Bruce is a man in decline. The problem is, he hasn’t noticed it yet. He’s bigoted, racist, sexist, incredibly corrupt, and will do anything to get promoted at the expense of his colleagues – an early sequence has them all sat in a room and he mentally attributes their odds of success compared to him. Actually, saying he hasn’t noticed his mental decline is perhaps a stretch – occasionally he notices, but his moments of lucidity are few and far between before he’s straight back into angry mode.

It’s also a tough film to classify. There are many moments of genuine laugh out loud humour, but then these are deftly counterbalanced by thoroughly unpleasant themes, both real and imagined. This ability to switch from laughs to horror in the blink of an eye is testament to both the script and Jon S Baird’s direction – it’s a balancing act that is very difficult to get right but thankfully in this case it works. It’s incredibly self-effacing with regards to the Scots, but that’s okay because it’s based on Irvine Welsh’s book. Because, y’know… he’s one of them Scots.

Jim Broadbent, yeees?
Jim Broadbent, yeees?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say the film affected me. I actually had to put on some happy songs on my drive home from the cinema just to cheer me up. That’s not saying the film is depressing, but it’s stark, dark and tragic, yet equally as hilariously funny. Seeing Jim Broadbent with a massive prosthetic forehead is a highlight, as is hearing his kiwi-infused accent. Eddie Marsan too, playing meek, mild mannered Bladesey is excellent, in particular when he takes a trip, in more than one sense of the word, thanks to Bruce dropping a couple of pills in his beer. On that note, McAvoy is superb as Bruce – it’s never clear at any moment whether he’ll be nice to your face or seriously rip into you. Usually it’s the latter, but the point remains it’s a deliberately unhinged performance. I heard an interview with him before seeing the film where he apparently turned up for work hungover to give Bruce a particular look – trust me, it worked.

Given the time of year it’s set, it might have been better releasing it towards the Christmas season, but then perhaps wisely it’s stepping out of the shadow of The Hobbit Part 2. Then again, Iron Man 3 was technically a Christmas film and that was released in April, so I don’t think it really makes much difference. If you missed Filth at the cinema, please seek it out when the Blu-Ray/DVD release inevitably rolls around, and whatever you may think of the opening act, stick with it. It’s perhaps not the easiest film to watch, but it’s things like this that make being a fan of the medium such a delight.

Favourite scene: Eddie Marsan tripping in Amsterdam.

Quote: “No more cocaine and chip suppers for Bruce, eh?”

Silly Moment: The tapeworm scenes, yeeeees?

Score: 5/5

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