Movie Reviews

‘Filth’: A trip inside a sociopath's mind

By Wang DexianMovies - 15 March 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 17 March 2014

‘Filth’: A trip inside a sociopath's mind

Filth

Our Rating

4/5 Stars

An adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name, ‘Filth’ is a crime drama served with huge doses of dark comedy, starring James McAvoy (‘X-Men: First Class’, ‘Wanted’) as Bruce Robertson, a detective sergeant based in the city of Edinburgh.                                  

Unlike most detectives, Bruce is a scheming, manipulative man who derives satisfaction from a mix of alcohol, cocaine and abusive sexual relationships – all in obnoxiously large amounts, of course.

Above all, he delights in “the games”, the term he gives his many nefarious plots that involve the people around him, including fellow detectives as well as his mild-mannered friend, Clifford Blades (Eddie Marsan).

Bruce's desire to clinch a promotion to be detective inspector is given a massive boost, when he is assigned to head an investigation into a Japanese student’s murder. 

With his schemes to turn his colleagues against each other in place, Bruce works the case, but various hallucinations start to creep in and he begins to lose his grip on reality. 

THE MOVIE’S ANCHOR

The movie, written and directed by Jon S Baird, rests completely on the shoulders of McAvoy, even if there are some other noted actors such as Jamie Bell and Imogen Poots playing his colleagues.

McAvoy seems to be having so much fun as he lets loose completely, playing one of the more interesting characters he had the chance to embody so far.

For much of the movie, McAvoy is in full (for easy comparison's sake) ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ mode as he goes about his business: insulting and swaying the people around him with his fast-talking Scottish accent, all the while inhaling everything in sight and fornicating with anyone he sees. He is, quite possibly, the epitome of human cruelty in this movie, a being who is just dripping with perverse sadism.

‘Filth’ definitely earns the title that adorns its poster, but unlike Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort, Bruce is a much more interesting character, with lots more dimension to him.

VERY WATCHABLE MADNESS

Despite the all-round lunacy perpetuated by him, Bruce shows cracks that he has some semblance of conscience. The viewer can't help but wonder if there is indeed a method to his madness, something that justifies all the chaos he is creating. 

It is quite admirable then, that Baird and McAvoy manage to humanise this extremely unlikable character. You might even find yourself, gasp, even cheering for him.

Baird puts McAvoy through a gauntlet of emotions: beginning with playful deviousness, followed by some serious self-questioning and ultimately, the decay of a broken man.

And admirably, McAvoy rises up to the challenge, boasting a superb acting range.

The film also scores with its eclectic covers of popular hits, which seem to sound simultaneously happy and sad, lending an even more surreal quality to an already absurd movie.

At times appalling, fascinating but never boring, ‘Filth’ is a dark, introspective comedy, led by a complex and versatile performance from McAvoy. 

‘Filth’ is now showing exclusively at GV Plaza

Movie Photos

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Filth