Words by Alice-Ginevra Micheli
For those who were left hungry by the raw unforgiving madness that came with the 1996 masterpiece Trainspotting, you will be satiated with the most recent Irvine Welsh adaptation, Filth.
Set during the festive season in Edinburgh, Jon. S. Baird’s film follows corrupt, coked-up detective Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) in his bid to secure a promotion by any means necessary. Tasked with solving the murder of a Japanese tourist, Robertson slowly starts to lose everything, including his grip on reality.
What opens as a relatively normal ‘cop on the wrong side of the tracks’ flick quickly becomes a window into the downward spiral that is Robertson’s mind. Baird’s use of erratic camera angles is reminiscent of the quintessential Danny Boyle film, whereby reality and hallucinations become skewed, causing the audience to constantly second-guess events. However, in true Welsh fashion, all the devastating and alarming scenes, such as the violent masturbations or the inconsistent investigating, only spur on the story and add to the 97-minute whirlwind that is Robertson’s deluded mission.
McAvoy gives the performance of a lifetime, showcasing everything he has, including his worst self. The character of Robertson, which saw McAvoy actually induce vomiting, is given life by his unapologetic turn as the sadistic bi-polar detective in a manner that ultimately sucks you into this anti-hero’s universe.
Assisted by other strong characters such as Jim Broadbent’s kooky Aussie doctor and Eddie Marsan as Robertson’s unfortunate friend, Filth delivers all that is expected from the title and much more.
Including everything from a tour in Hamburg’s red-light district to farm animal delusions, Filth is the greatest black comedy to come out of the UK in a very long time.
If you have a strong stomach, go see it. If you don’t, go see it with a bucket; it is not one to miss!