After the last two disappointing film adaptations of Irvine Welsh novels, The Acid House (1998) and Ecstasy (2011), there is much anticipation to see if Filth will make the impact Trainspotting achieved in 1996. Filth might not quite reach those lofty heights, but fortunately it’s still a riot of a film that lives up to the book’s reputation, and so naturally it will undoubtedly entertain and appall in equal measure.
Set in the dank world of Edinburgh’s “finest”, the story follows Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) as he attempts to secure a promotion – largely to impress his wife – whilst dealing with the small matter of investigating a local murder.
As those who are acquainted with the novel will attest, the title isn’t without meaning, as Bruce isn’t your typical copper. Not only is he a scotch-swigging, cocaine-consuming, chain-smoking mess of a man, our protagonist is a crazed junkie bigot, not above witness intimidation, soliciting fellatio from a minor and undercutting his colleagues via adultery, slander or sexual humiliation.
McAvoy is nothing short of superb: a dead-eyed menace one moment, a teary-eyed physical wreck the next. He is also surrounded by a wealth of talent, all of whom join him in marvelously playing against type: Eddie Marsan as the sad-sack accountant Bladesey, Jamie Bell as Bruce’s baby-faced sidekick, and Jim Broadbent as Dr. Rossi, who largely appears in distorted form and terrorizes Bruce’s drug-fuelled hallucinations.
Writer/director Jon S. Baird has wisely opted to embrace the vices of the book and throws it all onscreen with brazen glee. From the violent start to the truly twisted climax, his adaptation is full of directorial swagger and reckless abandon that makes Filth – for those who can stomach it – a refreshingly adult wild ride.
Filth is released nationwide on 27th September 2013.
Watch the trailer for Filth here: