Release Date: June 6, 2014
Running Time: 97 minutes
Drugs are fun until they are not fun. We all know this. So does writer/director Jon S. Baird, whose manic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel Filth maintains a constant high for much of its 97 head-spinning minutes before crashing and burning into a confrontation between a broken man and his personal demons. James McAvoy is Bruce Robertson, a Scottish cop whose drug consumption, bedroom exploits, and self-destructive behavior undermines a murder investigation and, by extension, his chances of landing a big promotion. Why has Robertson allowed drugs to rule his life? It’s a question that Filth doesn’t answer until late in the game, but that doesn’t matter. Baird finds equal amounts of humor and horror in the coke-fueled games Robertson plays with his unsuspecting friends, colleagues, and enemies, who include Billy Elliot’s Jamie Bell, The World’s End’s Eddie Marsan, and Need for Speed’s Imogen Poots. Filth puts forth the notion that Robertson’s wife takes pleasure in the war he’s waged against those who stand in his way because she wants him to land the big promotion. There’s more to this than meets the eye, and it results in a twist that can’t be seen coming. But it’s also very much in keeping with Robertson’s downward spiral. As wild-eyed and unpredictable as one would expect from a power-hungry authority figure with a gun, McAvoy storms through the streets of Edinburgh taking sheer delight from the mayhem he causes while allowing us a glimpse at a time at the pain and suffering that Robertson seeks to numb. Filth is very much about how we cope with a personal crisis that threatens to cripple us emotionally and psychological. Accordingly, Filth doesn’t pack the same knockout punch as Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, a generation-defining examination of 1990s British youth culture. Filth also doesn’t possess that one harrowing moment that tops the hallucinations Ewan McGregor experiences in Trainspotting, but there are still plenty of times when the film borders on the disturbing. Baird also manages to squeeze in some amusing and pointed comments about the intensity of workplace rivalries. This is when Filth is at its funniest, although there’s no denying that what Robertson does to some of his workmates in his bid to win the promotion is beyond cruel. It would be easy to blame it on the drugs, but Filth knows better than to let Robertson off the hook regardless of the root cause of his unacceptable behavior.
Aired: June 5, 2014
Web site: http://www.magnetreleasing.com/filth/