James McAvoy Gives His Best Ever Performance…

Writer Irvine Welsh, best known for the outrageously brilliant, entertaining, Oscar-nominated Trainspotting, which put Scotland on the map for a completely different reason, than Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. There were no cries of “freedom!” from any of the likeable rogues, penned by Welsh. It was a gritty drama showing what drugs and poverty in Edinburgh were like back-in-the-day. It was more “same rules apply,” that was often heard in Filth. Welsh has a style that gives his characters a surrealism that, in actual fact, makes them more real in our minds. Albeit rather twisted but no less appealing.

Instead of seeing it from the drug-addled criminals point-of-view (and typically “Welsh,” we don’t think of Trainspotting‘s Renton or Begbie as criminals), but from the police officers perspective, although, McAvoy’s Detective Bruce Robertson, isn’t that far off a criminal himself. While Bruce goes through the motions of policing, we watch him disintegrate before our eyes, in often heartbreakingly amusing scenes, yet it’s his other side we delight in.

Directed by
Jon S. Baird
James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent, Pollyanna McIntosh
Release Date
Spring 2014
Grade: A

James McAvoy has a solid, proven, track-record as an actor, and has shown he can rise to just about any occasion, yet his range is finally getting the workout it deserves. He goes from calm, lucid, to outright insane in the blink-of-an-eye, thanks to drugs, alcohol and mental-health problems stoking his fire. I was actually reminded of his performance in Atonement, but no doubt most will be looking at his X-Men roles, for which he is perhaps better known to younger audiences, although, after seeing McAvoy’s standout performance in Filth, they will undoubtedly remember this one for a long time to come.

The cast is a very good one and when you consider the small but brilliant pool of actors, they have done an extremely good job. Not all are native Scots, but the likes of BAFTA winner Jamie Bell put on a convincing accent. Interestingly, Bell and McAvoy had big-budget, effects-heavy movies come out the same year back in 2008, Wanted and Jumper, although Wanted was by far the better action flick.

The beautiful Imogen Poots (Fright Night) is among the co-stars, but I was more interested in the hugely talented, sultry Pollyanna McIntosh, who any horror-fan worth their salt, will remember from her amazing performance in Woman, where she played a feral female, who is captured and used as a sex-object (but, revenge is sweet). There were also the talents of Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter, Gangs of New York), Eddie Marsan (The World’s End) and Trainspotting actress Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter).

My favourite scene was during one of the nuisance phone-calls, between Bruce and his friends wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson), and this was, perhaps, McAvoy’s finest ever turns as an actor. The range he displayed was astonishing, and could remain his best for a long time to come. Filth was filled with very strong and powerful scenes, that were all memorable. Eddie Marsan’s Bladesey, Bruce’s best and only real friend, was also extremely good, but his performance was strong in the way Marsan played it low-key, and had our sympathy.

McAvoy’s Bruce Robertson, for all that he was a racist, homophobic junkie, and no matter how low and depraved he eventually became, you couldn’t help feel for Bruce. The Bruce character was also multi-layered, and is a credit to McAvoy for pulling this one off, and looked to have taken a lot out of the actor. This was not an easy one to do for any thespian, but even playing a man much older than himself, McAvoy done so very convincingly.

The film itself, looks to have taken several cues from Trainspotting, when it came to the hallucinated scenes with Broadbent’s Dr. Rossi and Bruce, which saw Dr. Rossi with a huge forehead and Aussie accent. Broadbent didn’t have a great deal of screen-time, but you sure knew when he was on.

Filth is also a disturbing film, made easier to watch, thanks to the wicked humour and outstanding acting, but even if seen as a drama, it was still a tremendous movie. The story is far from a simple one, and the promotion seeking and Asian man’s murder, served only to provide Bruce’s tale of descent-into-madness, with a vehicle. Aesthetically, Filth‘s late 1980’s, early 90’s Edinburgh setting was perfect, and having David Soul appear, and mime to his hit-song of that era was cleverly amusing, helping add to the feel.

If you’re a fan of Brit movies, Trainspotting, McAvoy or superb acting, then this is a film that shouldn’t be missed. Filth doesn’t yet have a US release date, but it is set for release in Scotland on the 27th September with the rest of the UK the following week on October 4th.

Filth has been purchased by Magnolia, who intend releasing the popular film in the US in Spring 2014.

Nav Qateel