The Movie Waffler BluRay Review - <i>Filth</i> | The Movie Waffler

BluRay Review - Filth

A crooked Edinburgh cop is determined to win a promotion by any means.

Directed by: Jon S Baird
Starring: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Shirley Henderson, Jim Broadbent, Kate Dickie, David Soul

The Movie:

Long thought unfilmable, Jon S. Baird brings Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh’s scabrous novel to the big screen, featuring a career best turn from James McAvoy as Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, an old school copper in a modern world, if by old school you mean corrupt, racist, alcoholic, drug addicted and resolutely untrustworthy. Enlisted to solve the brutal murder of a young man and also conspiring to win promotion whilst ruining his colleagues reputations, Bruce may have bitten off more than he can chew. He is starting to hallucinate and his drugs and drinking binges are starting to get out of control.
All previous adaptations of Welsh’s work have had to live in the shadow of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, a seminal work that captured the spirit of the Brit Pop era and aged about as well as a Union Jack dress. In this adaptation, Baird has managed to create something with a style that is a little more personal, even if at times it does have the same  hyperkinetic approach that can make some of Boyle’s work tiring to watch.
It is pleasing to see a British film with a bit of cinematic ambition for a change, helped in no small part by Clint Mansell’s score. Casting McAvoy against type as a grizzled nasty bastard could have been a disaster, but he goes for full out arsehole here. Never trying to be likable or amusing, what we get is a conniving, wheedling scum bag who thinks nothing of psychologically torturing his so called friends or using his power to his advantage, no matter the consequences. He brings a menace to proceedings but does it all with charisma. Like the best anti heroes, you may not agree with his actions but you will enjoy being in his company.
It’s a magnetic performance, no question, but one at the service of a distinctly underwhelming narrative. Welsh has always been an author that likes to wander and his anecdotal style has always made it a difficult fit for the movies. What we end up with here are two separate stories fighting for screen-time, one a by the numbers policer regarding the murder of a young Asian man that gets picked up and dropped whenever is convenient. This is not helped by a murderous gang led by Gorman (Martin Compston) who look as though they have escaped from a Children’s Film Foundation version of Mad Max, with outfits that seem from another era. The other, far more interesting,  strand is the jockeying for position and favor for the promotion that Robertson believes will bring security and stability to his family. It is here that McAvoy brings his sociopathic charm and venal braggadocio to proceedings. Baird is to be commended for bringing the film in at just over 90 minutes but you feel that a tighter focus or a longer running time may have paid dividends.
McAvoy may be the lead, but there is no shortage of talent in support. Eddie Marsden can play downtrodden in his sleep, but a scene of him pilled up in a German gay bar is a highlight, as is Shirley Henderson as his spouse, a sexually repressed housewife who may be enjoying the sexually abusive phone messages more than she is letting on. Jamie Bell and Imogen Poots are adequate as his fellow detectives but don’t get enough to wrestle with to really register; the casting of John Sessions as his superior officer just doesn’t fit tonally.
The need to include dream sequences is also very hit and miss. Jim Broadbent starts to grate as his imaginary psychiatrist, dishing out platitudes in an Australian accent (a conceit that was wrestled from the talking tapeworm of the novel) but a cameo from David Soul, including his hit ‘Silver Lady’, is the highlight of the film and has a much sleazier punchline once the film's final revelation is unveiled.
Baird ends with a bold climax that may alienate some people and takes it into a polymorphous area that it does not have the conviction to follow up on. A sub plot revolving the death of a husband and Robertson’s burgeoning relationship with the widow feels like an attempt at sympathy that the character doesn’t deserve and the performance doesn’t ask for.
Baird has put together a ramshackle film dealing with difficult thorny material, eminently watchable for the performances alone and laugh out loud funny in places. However, like most addicts, what starts as fun and excitement eventually becomes self indulgent and ultimately sentimental.


As you would expect, sound and picture quality are all top notch on this Blu-ray. It is standard issue when it comes to extras, featuring a jaunty commentary from director and author, short interviews and outtakes. You also get deleted and extended scenes, one of which shows a scene of attempted bestiality that should have remained in the film, another showcasing Irvine Welsh’s questionable acting talent that should be under lock and key. All adequate stuff without being substantial.

Jason Abbey