Release Date: 4th October
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Director: Jon S.Baird
Starring: James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, Jamie Bell, Imogen Poots, Shirley Henderson, Jim Broadbent, David Soul (??)
Scotland’s capital: a shining beacon for tourists, performers and the majestic setting for many a far-flung postcard. Or not, as the case may be in director John S Baird’s adaptation of Filth. Spawned from the devilishly creative mind of one of the country’s most prolific authors, Irvine Welsh, Filth follows in the flat footsteps of one Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy). An up-and-coming officer in the Edinburgh constabulary, Robertson is a man of high hopes, high aspirations and well, is just plain high most of the time.
In true Irvine Welsh style, Filth not only shows us Edinburgh’s seedy underbelly, but takes it five steps further; carving it down the middle to reveal its twisted, rotten and bloody innards. In only Baird’s second feature-length film, the notoriety of the Trainspotting author’s material seems to have paid off. With a stellar British class, including the likes of McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Jamie Bell and Shirley Henderson, Filth looks to be just the sort of home-grown smut that audiences will flock to see… and leave drained.
There’s no polite way of getting around it – Bruce Robertson is a cocky bastard. Confident in his future assent to Detective Inspector and with a marriage the envy of most of his colleagues, Robertson struts through the streets of Edinburgh with a wink to the ladies and two fingers raised at those less fortunate than him. However, as is so often the case, all is not quite what it seems. With more Class A drugs at his fingertips than all the scum he’s paid to put away have in their wall safes, old Brucie’s descent is inevitable.
Filth delves deep into the sick mind and fantasies of a man endowed with great responsibility but little else to be proud of. Like a ticking time bomb, his sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle starts to take its toll on his relationships and his physical and mental decline is made obvious. The tapeworm which wove its frustrating way through the book and Bruce’s intestines is here less obvious – replaced instead by an unending number of direct-to-camera monologues and voiceovers by McAvoy, as well as several ghoulish nightmares involving Bruce’s oddly-Australian and omnipotent physician (Broadbent).
McAvoy and Broadbent steal the show in performances too perverse to miss; Scotland’s golden boy McAvoy deploys a shock and stun tactic that will have Atonement fans checking their usually tear-stained hankies for other bodily fluids. Bell is solid as Robertson’s easily-swayed, young sidekick while Marsan is convincingly naive in his role as the film’s only potentially-redeemable character.
The slow-motion swagger and deliberate cock-suredness of the first thirty minutes is made bearable only by the extreme degree of Robertson’s subsequent decline, when his lurid fantasies and nightmares begin to take over. While some of the latter scenes may prove difficult viewing for those unfamiliar with Welsh’s typically- troubling narratives, a ‘go hard or go home’ mentality will see the rest through. Put bluntly – if you’re going to walk a mile in this bobby’s shoes, expect to step in filth.