Film review: Filth (7 out of 10)

James McAvoy in Filth
James McAvoy in Filth

It’s a coincidence but for the second week running I’ve watched a film that has a great performance from an actor whose character is losing their grip on reality.

Cate Blanchett will porobably be in the running for an Oscar but, sadly, James McAvoy won’t get a sniff of an award for his role in Filth.

The reason? Well, this adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel will have just too much sex, drugs, bad language and hallucinatory scenes for the judges.

Director and writer Jon S Baird has done a very good job of getting Welsh’s book on the big screen.

I read it several years ago and most of the plot has been carried over - with one or two extreme elements discarded that would have been too much for the censors.

McAvoy plays detective Bruce Robertson who, along with a number of colleagues, has been put on the case of a murdered student in Edinburgh.

However, Robertson is a drug-taking, alcoholic, bigoted, sweary, bi-polar mess of a man who is attempting to get promotion - a move he believes will help restore his ailing marriage.

And he will use anyone and any means to get what he wants.

McAvoy was, in fact, not the first choice for the role as former Dr Who David Tennant was lined up for the role.

While Tennant would have done a good job, McAvoy is excellent and carries the audience along on his descent into madness.

Welsh’s strength has been the ability to tell harrowing stories but with good dollops of humour to help the plot along.

And as with another of his books - Trainspotting - there are plenty of good laughs.

There’s also a very strong cast with Jamie Bell as fellow police officer Ray Lennox and Jim Broadbent as Dr Ross.

Eddie Marsan, who never seems to put in a half-hearted performance, is his usual brilliant self as Robertson’s only friend, Bladesey.

And to round off the movie, the eclectic soundtrack is also very good.

But this is McAvoy’s movie and he doesn’t disappoint as he steers Robertson through the dark and disturbing final third of the film.

Film details: Filth (18) 97mins

Director: Jon S Baird

Starring: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley