Film Review: Filth


Filth may not be quite what viewers expect if they have seen the trailer. Nonetheless, the film offers something better.

Scheming policeman Bruce Robertson is in line for a promotion. Unscrupulous Bruce will stop at nothing to achieve his aim, undermining his rival colleagues at any opportunity. Tasked with leading the investigation on a murder case, Bruce starts to unravel…

Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, Filth lives up to its title. There is a real seediness to the film, both thematically and visually. The lighting, sets and costumes create a murky world.

Jon S. Baird’s film excels in flipping genres. Filth begins as a comedy, albeit a black one, and shifts into a much darker drama. The beauty lies in the subtlety of this shift; it is carefully crafted so that the audience do not see it coming.

Bruce is a marvellously well drawn character. He is a captivating protagonist. At first it seems as if the film will concern his scheming but it descends into something darker.

The film is vulgar at times, but humour hits the mark. As a psychological study, Filth fluctuates from grim reality to subversive nightmare. The parallels its protagonist in terms of the freneticism and disjointedness.

James McAvoy delivers a powerful performance as Bruce. It is the strength of his portrayal which carries the film. McAvoy really is excellent in the role; he looks the part as well as conveying the character’s mental state effectively. He comes across as authentic when depicting all sides to the character. Eddie Marsan also delivers a star turn as Bruce’s straight-laced friend from the lodge.

The film’s soundtrack is retro but fitting. Paired with the on-screen action, upbeat songs are given a dark spin. Filth offers a tenebrous journey. Nonetheless, it is a most memorable journey at that.