There are two key reasons that Filth is a film worth paying attention to; it’s based on a book by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and it features a performance from James McAvoy far removed from roles we would associate with the actor. They are both reasons that deliver on their promises, although the performance trumps the source material.
Irvine Welsh can definitely be commended for creating the vile, disgusting and villainous detective Bruce but it’s down to McAvoy to bring him to the big screen. This is no easy task but from the first moments that the detective bursts onto our screens, he is nothing less than captivating.
In fact Bruce is the perfect example of a villain you love to hate. He is vile, obnoxious and manipulative, the whole film being focused on his efforts to get a promotion and screw over the his colleagues in the process. The triumph of the movie is that you are rooting for him. You are hoping his manipulations work and that he will succeed, mainly because McAvoy makes Bruce such a likable and enticing creep.
That isn’t to say that Bruce tows a fine line between good and evil. He can do terrible things and there are moments when he is revolting beyond redemption. These are the moments where Irvine Welsh’s source material seeps through; the darker, gross and sometimes confusing aspects of the movie.
That is the main criticism of the film. Towards the end and the “revelations” that appear towards the finale of the movie, events become confused and try to be too clever for their own good. The minor twists are handled very well but its a film that feels like it struggles to end, with an ending that doesn’t deliver the punch that the rest of the movie promises.
The movie is worth watching for the transformative performance from McAvoy alone. From the moment he appears on-screen, he is unrecognisable from the actor who plays Professor X in the X-Men franchise. A real triumph in varied and surprising performances.
Overall, Filth is all about the central character, who offers a story that perfectly reflects the title of the movie. Regardless of how nasty, awful and revolting McAvoy’s character gets, you will still root for him and want him to succeed. Although the ending seems confused, there is a lot of interesting elements to the film, none more so than McAvoy’s central performance.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)