James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Shauna Macdonald, Jim Broadbent
Director: Jon S. Baird
“A corrupt, junkie cop with bipolar disorder attempts to manipulate his way through a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter while also fighting his own inner demons” (IMDb).
»Currently streaming on Hulu«
What to Expect
James McAvoy has a lot of sex
Same Rules Apply
Why You Should Watch It
I appreciate movies that stay with you, and Filth definitely stays with you after you’ve watched it. Mostly because you’re disturbed, but you’re also treated to a wild ride of a story that gradually turns sentimental as it goes on. This adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel (the guy who also wrote a little number called Trainspotting) finds a good balance between outrageous and heartbreaking. McAvoy’s character is introduced as irredeemably obscene, yet by the end credits the viewer feels sympathy for him.
Worth Checking Out (B)
I had to give this film a higher grade than my first impression because the more I ruminated on it, the more I found to like about it. McAvoy’s acting is riveting and his character, Bruce, has more depth than expected. Carole (Macdonald) keeps the audience guessing if she’s dead, alive, or a figment of Bruce’s imagination. And just for the hell of it, there’s a cartoon in the end credits. Filth is a better movie than it makes itself out to be, it just happens to be buried underneath a lot of sex scenes and (substance/physical/verbal/sexual) abuse.
My biggest complaint with this movie is that they failed to include the tapeworm narrative like in the book. I mean, come on, I haven’t even read the novel and that sounds awesome. Alluding to tapeworms a couple times in the film does not make up for it!
Unveiling Carole as Bruce in drag was a jaw-dropping twist that was only (slightly) surpassed by showing Real Carole as not only alive, but looking like she actually missed Bruce and wanted to go to him when they saw each other at the grocery store. Were his drug use and infidelity the catalyst to her leaving, or was it something else? Clearly the circumstances were so devastating to Bruce that he buried himself under enough alcohol and cocaine to not even remember the reason why. That’s what makes his character so fascinating, though. At first, Bruce’s behavior appears to be that of a bored scumbag who enjoys nothing more than messing with other people, but it turns out his vices are just coping mechanisms to avoid his more vulnerable emotions. When these mechanisms begin to fail him – drugs giving him frightening hallucinations, crossdressing losing him the promotion, or sex being turned against him by getting raped – Bruce cannot accept his tragic reality and must kill himself. It’s almost reminiscent of Javert from Les Misérables, in that both characters don’t believe they deserve anything good and cannot handle love or compassion. The world is black and white. People are either good or bad, not both. Same rules apply.