One of the most prominent images that has been used to advertise Filth has been that of police officer Bruce Robertson presenting both middle fingers, to a young child, in an offensive manner. This image emphasises the shocking and grim themes of the film. After watching the film, it is important to inform you that this may just be the most uplifting and tame moment of the movie. This sums up everything you need to know about this years most controversial and shocking cinema release. It has taken me about a week and a half to process Filth. It was one of the most intense and obscure cinematic experiences I have had in recent years. Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel about a drug fuelled, abusive policeman, fighting for a promotion that he believes will win him back his family, Filth has been advertised as this decades Trainspotting and has played on its controversy in order to promote itself. Filth seemed to be on a mission to shock, offend and outrage. The subject matter sinks into grimmer and grimmer territories; splitting audiences. There are elements of comedy that snake in and out of some scenes but not enough to drown out the hideousness of this story and its characters. My friends and I, although divided about our enjoyment of the film, were all fully effected by the bleakness of Filth. I, for one, did not find anything about the film enjoyable and the whole experience was awkward, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t find anything particularly amusing about Filth where others were roaring with laughter. From start to finish, Filth had clear intentions; to unsettle. Whether you laughed, gagged, squirmed or walked out altogether, the film’s attempts to cause controversy never dwindled. After a while I found this a little desperate. One too many grotesque visual images meant that Filth was trying that little bit too hard to shock us.
This is, undoubtedly, James McAvoy’s film. His central performance is the best thing about the whole piece. His character’s bitterness and self abuse is clear and it is perhaps his greatest, and ugliest, performance to date. He could have been accused of a caricature-like performance if it was not for the self discipline and subtlety he demonstrates. Bruce Robertson is a monstrous character to play and McAvoy’s fierce acting ability flawlessly delivers the task at hand. Jim Broadbent gives the most comical performance of the film as the surreal Doctor Rossi, an exaggerated character from Robertson’s own unhinged mind. Shirley Henderson and Eddie Marsan are also on top form as the sexually frustrated couple who Robertson chooses to manipulate and control. If it was not for the film’s strong portfolio of British actors and actresses I would have struggled to find anything enjoyable within Filth. The script is blunt, bleak and brave, as you would expect from an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s work. Along with the script, the music, editing and cinematopgraphy are also well executed. Technically, there is much to be admired. Narratively and visually, there is little to take comfort in. Despite the harsh situations and ugly predicaments displayed in Trainspotting, there was also an uplifting sense of hope, for characters you could understand and root for. Filth isolates its audience. Characters are disposable and this causes the film’s climax and twists to fall on deaf ears. There are blatant similarities between both films but Filth falls short of living up to the genius of Boyle’s nineties cult classic. Although there is much to be admired and appreciated about Jon S. Baird’s Filth, it is impossible to enjoy or rejoice in it. Everything, from the story to my personal experience in the screening, was a painful and nauseating ordeal.
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