REVIEW: Filth (18)
* * * * *
HOW many ways can you say FILTH is not a movie for your granny – unless you’re hoping she’ll never speak to you again in this life. And probably the next.
But if you can take Irvine Welsh’s laughter-packed, sleazy rollercoaster ride with its constant swearing, sex, racism, homophobia, misogyny and the odd bit of brutal violence, you’ll be fine.
It’s worth it for James McAvoy’s performance alone.
Whatever the range of roles you’ve seen him do before – TV’s Shameless, Early Doors, State Of Play, movies Wanted, Atonement, The Last King Of Scotland, play Mr Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch And the Wardrobe, and appeared in The X Men and Trance, you’ve still never seen him quite this good before.
Scary, unpleasant and burning up the screen as slightly porky, red-eyed Bruce, McAvoy can go from unsympathetic bully to tragic heartbreaker in seconds. Then switch back.
He plays Welsh’s anti-hero, Edinburgh Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson and we join him just before Christmas when a nasty murder needs to be solved and his rivals for promotion need to be kicked into touch.
As he tells us: "I’ve got news for this bunch of donkeys, only one horse can get this job and that’s Bruce ‘Stallion’ Robertson."
But early on, the hints start that something’s not quite right with Bruce’s home life.
And when he’s not trading raw banter with his colleagues, he’s playing "The Games" with them for his own amusement.
He’s hoax-calling the wife of an important figure in the local masons’ lodge, shagging a colleague’s wife, writing graffiti in the station toilets implying another one is gay and using cocaine and prostitutes to lead the youngest contender for promotion astray.
His own substance abuse is pretty impressive – but he’s also mixing it with gallons of booze – to blot out family problems.
It’s all giving Bruce horrendous hallucinations which director Jon S Baird uses to supplement the grimness of the main action with surreal full-on fantasy sequences and flashbacks.
Anyone who’s read Filth will find some changes – the tape worm doesn’t get much of a look-in, though a cameo from David Soul almost compensates in the surreal stakes.
But Welsh’s wit and bleak worldview – on everything from cops aka "the filth" to Scots contribution to the world, love and the point of life itself – beats away at the heart of this tightly-edited 90-minuter.
The quality cast includes John Sessions, Jim Broadbent, Shirley Henderson, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, Emun Elliott, Gary Lewis, Brian McCardie and Joanne Froggatt, who plays the only person who could save Bruce from himself.
This is a movie with plenty of guilty sniggers attached and the balls to do justice to Irvine Welsh’s no-holds-barred tale.
Best line: Unprintable. Second-best: "No more cocaine and fish suppers for you, Bruce!"
Quick review: Depraved, depressive detective gets dead funny – and desperate.
Best scene: Hamburg "cycling trip", the cops’ Christmas party photocopying session.
On in cinemas now and coming to Eden Court from October 18 to 24.