15th Feb2014

‘Filth’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Imogen Poots, James McAvoy, Joanne Froggatt, Jamie Bell, Shirley Henderson, Eddie Marsan, Iain De Caestecker, Jim Broadbent, Pollyanna McIntosh | Written and Directed by Jon S. Baird


I think it’s fair to say that my movie tastes can be quite diverse at times, but my true love is for the movie that looks at the darker side of the psyche.  This tends to push me into the horror genre quite a bit, but give me a film like A Clockwork Orange and I’ll be hooked.   This is probably why Filth in many ways is a perfect movie for me as James McAvoy’s character Bruce Robertson is in many ways a more grown up and dangerous version of Alex DeLarge.

The character of Bruce Robertson is a sociopath, a bigot and as corrupt as they come.  In the world of Filth this probably makes him the perfect cop.  In line for a promotion he looks to undermine his colleagues with the aim of securing his new job by any means necessary.  As the web of lies build up though and Robertson’s mental health starts to deteriorate his diet of drugs and alcohol start to take its toll and all the lies and underhand tactics start to unravel.  The question is simple, can he keep hold of his sanity long enough to get the job or will the Filth he is deeply drowning in consume him?

Bruce Robertson is in many ways one of the ultimate anti-heroes, you shouldn’t like him but you can’t help yourself from doing it.  When the cracks start to show in his psyche and his past starts it come back to haunt him you gain an understanding about just who he is.  The fact the only way he deals with these cracks though is to play games with other’s lives is the morality issue that we know will come back to bite him.  The imagery we see in Filth, such as the continual reference to the tape worm, the confrontation with a warped version of Dr. Rossi (Jim Broadbent) in his own mind and the continual hallucinations of how he views himself and his colleagues also show just how messed up he is.

What makes Filth more disturbing for us as the viewer is we see Robertson’s story very much through his eyes, so we have to witness what he is going through and figure out the puzzle that is his mind.  We’re not spoon-fed exactly what is has sent him over the edge, but the slow revelations that explain it all thankfully don’t leave any questions remaining.  We know that Robertson is going to go off the deep end and we are there for the ride.

Filth is very much James McAvoy’s movie, he seems to love playing Robertson and holds nothing back.  As the voyeur in his adventures we also can’t help but enjoy his games with which he takes so much fun in, which makes us complicit in his actions.  I’ll admit one of the final twists about his wife was easily worked out, but it was a case of hoping that this would be the revelation as it fit what Robertson as a character was going through.

When it comes to the supporting cast of Filth, I did feel that some of the characters were underdeveloped, though the actors made of the best of what they had.  Imogen Poots and Jamie Bell are two that do it well, and Eddie Masrsan as Bladesey plays his naïve innocent character well.  For the most part though in a supporting role I think I’d highlight Jim Broadbent the most as Dr. Rossie, or at least the one inside Robertson’s mind.  The confrontational “Doctor” that works as Robertson’s subconscious is an important story device, as it’s only in Robertson’s mind that we are finally able to see the truth behind the chaos.

There are a few flaws in Filth, and you can tell one of the big ones is that it wants to be Trainspotting.  In some ways it does come close to Irvine Welsh’s other successful tale of the darker side of society.  Filth is a story that can’t live up to the success of Trainspotting though, it’s more surreal and mind bending, which says a lot about the film when you think about it.  For people who like the dark and controversial side of movies and aren’t afraid of being a little shocked now and again, Filth is quite a ride and shows James McAvoy at his best, harsh and unapologetic in its style, I personally loved it.

Filth is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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