Adapted from the Irvine Welsh novel, the UK crime comedy stars James McAvoy as a dirty, drug-abusing cop.
Ashleigh Synnott
Published on November 19, 2013


If you don't mind waiting 97 minutes for a really cute little animation at closing credits, then check out Filth. If waiting annoys you, then give this one a miss. If you must see it, do yourself a favour and read the book first. That might help.

Adapted from the acclaimed novel by iconic author Irvine Welsh, Filth falls short of even the most casual of expectations. Directed by Jon S. Baird from his own screenplay, Filth stars James McAvoy with a supporting cast including Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Imogen Poots and Eddie Marsan.

McAvoy is Bruce Robertson. He's a tormented, bigoted cop who snorts, smashes and sleazes his way through the festive period. What he really wants for Christmas is a promotion and he'll do whatever he needs to get it — screwing wives, exposing secrets and trampling self-esteems is all in a day's work.

The problem is, well, just about everything. Take Bruce. There's no descent into despair, no spiral out of control, no ride for us to belt up for and settle in. When we meet him he's an asshole, and he stays an asshole, with a few tears and moments on stairs with understanding colleagues thrown in.

I laughed twice, once about a boat and once because the c-word was very well-placed. The characters are half-baked and predictable — when the next line is in your head before its spoken then something has gone very wrong. Any aspect of Bruce's personality or past we're even vaguely interested in gets resolved in a lazy tell-all monologue revealing just what we had figured out 80 minutes and two buckets of popcorn ago.

And this is no Trainspotting situation; the violence is lame and without context, the sex is nothing to hang your hat on, the madness is stereotyped and disjointed and there's next to no opportunity for us to even begin to understand any of the two-dimensional characters or why they do all the annoying things they do. Except for the little piggy, right at the end, who is not annoying, and is completely adorable.

Filth gets one small point for the smashing soundtrack and the animation and McAvoy's beard, which is very neat and coped well with all the jaw clenching.


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