10 Things to Know About...Filth

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A bipolar, bigoted junkie cop manipulates and hallucinates his way through the festive season in a bid to secure promotion and win back his wife and daughter.
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Short Review:

“Filth” isn’t going to be a blockbuster by any means but it will offer people the chance to see Young Professor Xavier James McAvoy completely lose his s%$#. Produced in Scotland and released there last year, the movie plays like a mix of “Bad Lieutenant” and “Trainspotting”, the later not being a surprise since the author of Trainspotting Irvine Walsh also wrote the novel for this. Jon S. Baird’s adaptation of “Filth” isn’t as good as those two films, there isn’t much too it and it’s hard to follow (those Scottish accents are only the tip of this particular iceberg), but if you’re going to see it at all, see it for the cast. Starting with McAvoy and spreading down to supporting characters played by Eddie Marsan and Jim Broadbent, they all do a terrific job.

10 To Know:

10. James McAvoy gives the best strung-out on drugs and emotional distress performance I’ve seen in a while as Bruce, a cop trying to win a promotion as Detective Inspector. Problem is, he is Bipolar and has a thing for drugs and alcohol. +1

9. He also has a penchant for cruel games. His targets for all sorts of pranks, humiliations, and manipulations include all of his co-workers/obstacles toward winning the promotion and their wives. The stuff he does didn’t make me laugh but it does add even more substance to a character who is in fact out of control in every way and deteriorating rapidly. +1

8. Where the film gets very complicated is its swinging from Bruce’s pranks, to a dead child from Bruce’s past, to a police investigation, to Bruce seeing people in his drugged up state wearing pig and elephant masks (Whats up with this? The ending credit sequence also features a cartoon featuring these animals). I imagine the book made all this a little bit easier and less chaotic to follow. -1

7. It’s also really hard to get through the Scottish accents. At times you’ll want subtitles. -1

6. Eddie Marsan, who we know from several things including “Ray Donavon’s” boxing gym manager brother, is fantastic here as a buttoned up accountant who takes much of Bruce’s wrath. A scene where the character is slipped some acid is probably the funniest in the whole film. +1

5. Bruce’s wife Carole (Shauna McDonald) is always filmed in what seems to be a far removed, almost dream-like location which looks like something out of “Cabaret.” She seems to always be talking about Bruce’s promotion, power, and how it is the key to their marriage. She deepens what is already an interesting psychological study and gives us a big payoff in the end. +1

4. Jim Broadbent is on hand as Bruce’s psychiatrist but his best scenes come when he takes front and center in Bruce’s dreams. Boasting wild hair and an insanely wild performance, this is the most fun we’ve seen him be since “Moulin Rouge.” +1

3. Of course a lot of this will depend on what your definition of entertainment is. There is a scene where Bruce tries to manipulate a young 16 year old girl into sucking his dick, many others where characters greet the day by puking up whatever they imbibed the night before, and several scenes featuring homophobia that I’m not sure were meant to be funny or not. It may be too much for some, critics will of course just harken back to movies like “Bad Lieutenant” and say it’s par for the course, so yeah, it’s par for the course. +1

2. They may also say that it’s hard to root for or find any redemptive reason to want to watch this past the point of it being a study and that I would also agree with. -1

1. McAvoy and the rest of this cast earn another point though. They make it a psychological profile worth watching. +1

Final Score- 6/10