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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
James McAvoy
Jim Broadbent
Jamie Bell
Eddie Marsan
Imogen Poots
Joanne Froggatt.
Directors
Jon S. Baird.
Screenwriters
Jon S. Baird.
Running Time
97 minutes

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Filth
The (really) wrong arm of the law


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Plot
Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (McAvoy), a corrupt, cocaine-snorting, hard-drinking Edinburgh cop, is angling for a promotion to detective inspector, and is prepared to secure it by any means necessary. After a messy marriage split, however, his mind might not be as sharp as it was...


Review
Filth
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Nearly 20 years on, Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s cult novel Trainspotting remains the benchmark for crossover British cinema, breaking with the tradition that the UK’s only hit exports were period films involving butlers, women in corsets and furtive encounters between posh men in suede shoes. Loud, dirty and — in its humour — very, very wrong, it saluted everything the Tory government wanted to sweep under the carpet back then. A sequel, Porno, has yet to materialise; instead came a brace of inferior Welsh adaptations, The Acid House and Ecstasy, that both flopped.

The thinking, perhaps, was that Welsh’s time had been and gone, swept away with Blur vs. Oasis, Union Jack dresses and the rest of Tony Blair’s Cool Britannia. But Jon S. Baird’s take on the writer’s third novel, Filth, published in 1998, suggests there’s commercial life in this still fiercely independent writer yet. Its aggressively satirical view of the police does age the material slightly, but the dark energy of Welsh’s wit hasn’t dated much at all, and seeing much of it channelled by a near-unrecognisable James McAvoy may bring him to a whole new audience.

With Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, McAvoy has finally grown into the kind of role he was looking for in his last two movies, Trance and Welcome To The Punch. In neither did he quite seem to have the heft: Trance, especially, required a diametric shift in character that would be almost impossible for any actor. Here, though, he really goes for it, unburdened by the need to be the pretty-boy hero. Nothing about Robertson is likable. He is a bully and a monster; snatching a kid’s balloon and letting it float away is the least of it in a film that sees him demand oral sex from an underage girl and frame his gullible “best friend” for a crime of his own doing.

That Filth works is largely due to the fact that McAvoy is reversing the formula from Trance and Punch: there, we were asked to buy the good guy and take the possibility of the character’s darker moral shading on faith. Here, though, Robertson is so monstrous that the only way to get through it is to hope there is some glimmer of McAvoy’s usual humanity at the end of it, something Baird teases us with throughout. Around him, a great supporting cast has fun stretching the limits of realism: Eddie Marsan’s hilarious Clifford, a dim-witted mug we should feel sorry for but, somehow, don’t; Shirley Henderson as his mousy, secret goer of a wife; and Kate Dickie as Robertson’s bit-on-the-side, who enjoys a bit of “cutting the gas off”.

It’s a hard momentum to maintain, juggling all manner of extremes and digressions, but Baird does corral this berserk carnival into a cohesive narrative. As Robertson’s cool, calm amorality crosses the line into full-blown madness, only the strait-laced Amanda Drummond (Imogen Poots) sees what’s really going on, and he knows it, driving the misogynistic, domineering cop crazy. The final reveal brings us full circle, and though the pay-off might be tough for some to swallow, it is certainly in keeping with a film that sets out to be larger than life from the off.

It doesn’t have Trainspotting’s surprise factor, but Filth does have a better handle on shock value than its predecessors, thanks to Baird’s steady hand on the throttle. And where Trainspotting was an ensemble piece, this is McAvoy’s show, with a delirious, demonic performance that will surely see D. I. Robertson join Malcolm McDowell’s Alex DeLarge and Tom Hardy’s Charles Bronson in the pantheon of great British sociopaths.
 


Verdict
A bulked-up James McAvoy dominates the screen in this razor-sharp Glasgow smile of a black comedy, packed with aberrant sex, hard drugs and maximum David Soul.


Reviewed by Damon Wise

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Filth
Empire Star Rating

A bittersweet sensation. McAvoy steals every scene.

Read my full review on http://straighttelling.co.uk ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TroyPutland at 16:36, 01 September 2014 | Report This Post


SQUALID

Not only squalid but tedious and predictable. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Alex of Africa at 16:58, 25 May 2014 | Report This Post


Oh dear.....

I was really looking forward to this but it was just terrible. As someone mentioned below it just tries so hard to be like Trainspotting which I was hoping wouldn't be the case. McAvoy is ok but thats all he ever is, which is a shame cause he seems like a top man. Its just not funny. And worse than that it has no heart or soul. I can't remember the last time I felt so empty after a film. I spoke to a friend in LA last night and he said that Filth wasn't out there yet and he was really looking fo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 13:28, 23 February 2014 | Report This Post


lost its way a little

Started off really dark and funny, then got a little weird and heavy and abstract. The shift in tone didnt really work, and to be critical the film does feel "off". Great performance from McAvoy and co, and some great lines. Eddie Marsan on pills will stay with me for ever, funniest moment by far. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Samurai7 at 11:56, 05 February 2014 | Report This Post


bleak

I think McAvoy gives a strong performance in a very bleak film. Trouble is, he is such a nasty character and nearly everyone we meet (except for a young mother and a female cop) are pretty much unlikeable. I found it less of a black comedy as a tragedy and as such made uncomfortable viewing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 11:01, 18 October 2013 | Report This Post


bleak

I think McAvoy gives a strong performance in a very bleak film. Trouble is, he is such a nasty character and nearly everyone we meet (except for a young mother and a female cop) are pretty much unlikeable. I found it less of a black comedy as a tragedy and as such made uncomfortable viewing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 11:01, 18 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Another failed attempt at recreating Trainspotting

L: Azzurro06 Very funny, obviously its gives you pleasure to come around and rubbish other reviews on this forum. Hope you had a nice time. n the contrary - I'd say the Reviews section easily gives me the least pleasure of anywhere on this forum. I was disagreeing with your assertion that just because you didn't like the film the cast must regret being in it. ... More

Posted by horribleives at 11:44, 16 October 2013 | Report This Post


Does what it says on the filthy, filthy tin.

If you enjoyed the more hallucinogenic aspects of Trainspotting, you'll get a lot out of Filth. Welsh proves once again that you can be flexible with your linear narrative if you throw enough messed up situations at the reader/viewer and a few crowning reveal shots. Given the scope of the project, Filth is nothing short of magnificent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 01:12, 16 October 2013 | Report This Post


MARY WHITEHOUSE WOULD'VE LOVED THIS.....

Didn’t find it as offensive as it could have been and James McAvoy always seemed like such a nice, charming young man in all his movies. The basest debauchery abounds and no stone is left unturned as the “plot” develops - and I seriously cracked up when old “Hutch” himself turned up as the cab driver and started warbling his greatest hits. But what I REALLY want to know is – will there be a director's cut? And if so – how much more SEX,VIOLENCE, DRUG ABU... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 17:27, 15 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Another failed attempt at recreating Trainspotting

Very funny, obviously its gives you pleasure to come around and rubbish other reviews on this forum. Hope you had a nice time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Azzurro06 at 16:01, 15 October 2013 | Report This Post


Best Film of 2013

I have seen alot of movies in 2013 from massive blockbusters like Man of steel pacific rim etc....but this film beats all of them by a mile. The Story is dark and the sights of Edinburgh are amazing James McAvoy played the part to a T and he genuinely looks rough through out the whole film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Stephenh28 at 15:32, 14 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Another failed attempt at recreating Trainspotting

L: Azzurro06 Why do directors who take on Irvine Welsh material feel they have to make Trainspotting 2, and then fail so horribly. This was truly painful to watch, but very easy to analyse. It's Trainspotting without the wit, script, visual flair and taste (yes, that's right, taste). Just a compilation of disgusting sketches which nearly made me vomit into my popcorn. How McAvoy, Marsan and Broadbent found themselves in this odious movie is beyond me. But like one of McAvoy's character... More

Posted by horribleives at 12:50, 13 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Intoxicating Fun!!!!

A thoroughly tedious, one-note and mostly unfunny half gives way to a somewhat better second half that does compel, though Ferrera and Kietel did it all much better over two decades ago. MacAvoy's startling performance stands out, but deserves a better film. 4.5/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 22:34, 12 October 2013 | Report This Post


Intoxicating Fun!!!!

A blistering, funny and vulgar adaption of another Irvine Welsh's third novel, but surprisingly there is some genuine heart in here, among all the well,.."filth", pardon the pun. We follow the painfully funny antics of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson trying everything and anything to get that special "Promotion" as he get's tangled into a racial murder case. Along with huge amounts of cocaine and alcohol we follow Bruce ( A Brilliant James McAvoy) go from suspect to suspect and indulge in al... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 21:23, 10 October 2013 | Report This Post


great film

Seen it twice now. And it holds up on repeat viewing very well. McAvoy's performance improves. I think it's nigh on brilliant. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 23:26, 09 October 2013 | Report This Post


He should get the Oscar for this!

I think that McAvoy should be in the Oscar running for best actor for his performance in this film. It is without a doubt the best performance on film for the entire year. He manages to get the audience to love, hate, sympathise, and hope for him throughout. The audience I saw it with shared the same sentiments. It is a credit to his acting that his performance controls the schizophrenic tone of the film - which it is meant to (for those that didn't 'get it'). Everyone else is fantastic but... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Silvio Mugabe at 11:24, 09 October 2013 | Report This Post


Filth

Hmm seems I watched a different film to the rest of the commenters here, thought it was terriffic and refreshing to see an adult film that just revels in being un-PC. It could probably only work with that Scottish accent. McAvoy is brilliant just spiralling downward in destruction that he can't escape, and just when you think there is a touching moment when he's going to break through, he just spits out some more bile. Destined for cult classic status certainly is going to fill the asiles but gr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by durelius at 20:51, 08 October 2013 | Report This Post


Another failed attempt at recreating Trainspotting

Why do directors who take on Irvine Welsh material feel they have to make Trainspotting 2, and then fail so horribly. This was truly painful to watch, but very easy to analyse. It's Trainspotting without the wit, script, visual flair and taste (yes, that's right, taste). Just a compilation of disgusting sketches which nearly made me vomit into my popcorn. How McAvoy, Marsan and Broadbent found themselves in this odious movie is beyond me. But like one of McAvoy's character's "morning afters... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Azzurro06 at 18:56, 06 October 2013 | Report This Post


the down escalator

quite a few films coming out of Scotland just now ... pick carefully, if you are looking for "feel-good smalch" Filth is not for you. that said ( and I haven't read the book ) this is a fine example of a Faustian down escalator . Despite what is said on previous reviews Mc Avoy is rapidly becoming the "go to " actor for tortured soul and does the job very well, having to Pull on all his acting talent here ( literally ) and good supporting cast, not a first date movie by any m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by findogask at 09:11, 05 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Filth

Since its release seventeen years ago, Danny Boyle’s brilliant adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, there have been other films that attempted at adapting other works by the Scottish novelist. In the case of his 1998 novel Filth which was considered unfilmable, it took over a decade to make it into the big screen as writer/director Jon S. Baird shows the heightened grittiness of Edinburgh as oppose to the city’s upbeat environment in Sunshine On Leith. Following the murder of a youn... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 23:33, 04 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Filth

No... I can't concede it because a- just don't like James McAvoy as an actor and b- at just over a quarter into the film and am still bored it gives me every right to have an opinion. ... More

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 21:41, 03 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Not impressed

No. A press screening, and yeah. I didn't like it so gives me ample qualification to rate this movie as pish. :) ... More

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 21:35, 03 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Filth

Piece of pish. I'm really not much of a fan of Welsh and his one note writing; his approach worked for a group of heroin addicts, but the constant banging of the same drum over his following novels, short stories & television dramas became increasingly tiresome with each effort. otting olutionary in dismantling Scottish discourse, yet in /i](especially in this adaptation) his observations have disintegrated into lazy stereotypes. His obsession with portraying the outrageous have also led to a h... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 07:51, 03 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Filth

It's quite different from the book in some respects, though I don't think they could do anything about that, as there are elements in the book that wouldn't work in a film. Never the less, it's a great film, excellent performance from McAvoy. ... More

Posted by JCR at 04:06, 03 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Filth

Won't get to the cinema to see it but I'm curious to watch this as I'm nearing the end of the excellent novel. Hope it's a faithful as it can be, as some of Robertson's antics are hilariously, wickedly conniving. The racist language in the book is pretty damn strong, but from the film plot synopsis I've read, I'd imagaine it would be less of a thing in the film. ... More

Posted by Super Hans at 16:47, 01 October 2013 | Report This Post


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