Reviewed by Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child. Visit his website.
Director Jon S. Baird
Writer Jon S. Baird
Cast James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan
AGE RATING: R
Definitely not a kiddies movie.
This is a good film, it starts better than it ends, but it’s a very good film. It’s disturbing, and funny, and frightening, and fabulously rich and decadent. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film like this and while I’m hesitant to make the comparison it did remind me a lot of Trainspotting. But while Danny Boyle’s film was close to flawless, Filth suffers the odd bump in the road.
Meet Det Sergent Bruce Robertson, Scotland’s most depraved, disturbed and disgusting cop. Now watch as Bruce looses his mind. He’s trying to land a big promotion at work, he’s trying to turn his etherial wife on and rekindle his marriage, he’s trying to stop seeing people turn into pig headed apparitions (literally), he’s trying not to listen to his swollen headed head-shrinker, most of all he’s trying not to go stark raving round the bend bonkers, but none of it is going particularly well.
The acting is rich and larger-than-life wonderful. James McAvoy leads the bunch as the suave and debonair Det Sergent Robertson. He’s devilishly sly and seductively charming, all at once being disturbingly amoral and decidedly … well … evil. McAvoy’s performance is entrancing and compelling. But while he hits all the high notes I felt his missed some of the low ones. He is so constantly high-energy and on-edge that it was quite an exhausting experience just watching him charge from scene to scene. No question the character deserved the hi-octane delivery, but like other brilliant contemporary actors, Leo DeCaprio jumps to mind, I find, as an audience member, the total unceasing dials-in-the-red performance style is too all-consuming to allow room for breath.
The supporting cast is almost unanimously wonderful. Each, almost caricatured, character is bubbling with irony and humour, and as an ensemble they present the perfect foil to McAvoy’s dark lead.
Jon S. Baird is good. He’s relativley new on the block, Filth being only his second full feature directing credit. But he’s been round the block as a producer and writer for some time. Filth is really well directed, the humour and absurdism is well balanced in the plot and flow of the film with the realism and narrative. And Robertson’s gradual decline into mania is carefully plotted and delicately handled. Perhaps the greatest directorial achievement in Filth is that, despite Robertson’s awfulness, we feel some measure of compassion for the filthy little weed.
If you liked Trainspotting, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Requiem for a Dream, then you’ll like Filth. If you’re more of a Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice kind of person then it may be a bit frenetic for you. www.Janks