Director: Jon S. Bird
Screenplay: Jon S. Bird
Cast: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Joanine Froggatt, Imogen Poots, Shirley Henderson, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, Ian De Caestecher, Emun Elliot, Kate Dichie and Shauna MacDonald
I’m a massive fan of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting based on Irvine Welsh’s novel. So naturally I was eagerly anticipating Jon S. Bird’s Filth also based on an Irvine Welsh novel and may I say I am not disappointed in the slightest. Many have described the film as being “ultra-dark” and I’m inclined to agree with them. The film just like the style of Irvine Welsh it is dark, forceful, humorous, uncompromising and powerful.
Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is a lets say questionable, unethical and unconventional Edinburgh cop hungry for promotion. To achieve this goal Bruce must overcome the challenges of his colleges also competing for the job. At first things are easy for Bruce as he is able to manipulate his colleges with ease however Bruce would soon discover that the biggest threat to his promotion prospects would be himself.
There are not many characters who are as compelling, captivating, three-dimensional and multi-layered as Bruce Robertson. In Bruce we see a character so buried in his own trauma and pain that he has shaken off the honest person he once was in favour of succumbing to humanity’s dark nature. As soon as we see Bruce we realise he is a despicable person: he is racist, homophobic, treats people with no regard, betrays everyone in sight even his “best friends” and will not think twice about exploiting someone for his own ends. However even though we know these things we cannot help but be drawn to the man and find out what makes him tick. Thus a pile of credit must be given to Jon S. Bird and and Irvine Welsh, Welsh for creating such a complex character and Jon S. Bird for translating such a great character to the screen with skill. Bruce is prof that you can’t judge a man by his cover which in Bruce’s case is filthy, you must instead take the time to read the pages inside (did I take that metaphor too far?).
The plot itself is also a joy. Humour is present throughout, I particularly the scene in which Bruce and Jamie Bells’ character intimidate a witness with tales of “The Beast” in prison. There is also a couple of hallucination scenes which are entertaining and symbolic enhanced by Jim Broadbent’s superb performance of an insane doctor with a peculiar, high-pitched voice. Lastly there are more than a few suprises, twists and turns to keep you hooked.
Now to the performance of James McAvoy, it is nothing short of spectacular. I sincerely hope I am wrong but I don’t see McAvoy giving a better performance. His screen presence was immeasurable, his comedic timing perfect and he somehow brought humanity to the character and carved the sympathy right out of you. You get the sense James McAvoy knew this character inside and out and knew exactly when to drop his guard and reveal the person underneath the dirt.
Never before have I enjoyed rolling around in filth. The film was everything I expected it to be and more. It did not buckle under the weight of the expectations Trainspotting would have brought and instead just ended up being a top class film.