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Review: Filth

Filth: they say it all depends on how you look at it. And I don’t know what it says about me, but while I really shouldn’t have loved this film, I really did.

Set in an antithetical Edinburgh from the ever-cheery Sunshine in Leith, here the cops aren’t dancing in formation, they’re tearing up the rulebook and tearing each other apart. This thing just got real.

Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is the film’s cocaine snorting, heavy drinking, sex addicted anti-hero. When the possibility of promotion comes up at work, he is determined to get the position, by any means necessary. And when you have no morals, all bets are off. Weaknesses are there to be exploited. Wives, friendships and caseloads are all fair game. And adultery, misogyny and racism are merely the side dish.

However, as in any good drama, no-one can play with fire and expect not to get burnt. Not even Robertson. Finally confronted by his colleagues, and trapped in a web of his own devising, it all begins to unravel in true Irvine Welsh style.

In DS Robertson, McAvoy has finally found a character that breaks his own well-crafted mould. While in the past he has mostly played if not the good guy, then at least the almost good guy. Or the bad guy you love to hate. But in this, despite virtually no evidence of redeemable traits, you still hope for redemption, right up until the last frame. The bad guy you hate to hate.

McAvoy is supported admirably by a misfit band of cops – career-hungry Amanda Drummond (Imogen Poots), partner-in-crime Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell) and their unsuspecting boss (John Sessions) – alongside Robertson’s eternally gullible Masonic pal Bladesey (Eddie Marsan) and naive single mum Mary (Joanne Froggett). Plus, Jim Broadbent with amazing hair.

Ably adapted for the screen by Jon S Baird, it rattles along at a fantastic pace, with both shocks and laughs coming thick and fast. This film is not for the faint-hearted. But for the rest of us, it’s most definitely worth it…

97 mins | 18 | October 4 2013
Watched: October 26, Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, Screen 6

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