As another full-on Irvine Welsh adaptation Trainspotting did in 1996, this bracingly original movie puts a new filmmaker on the map. Not only is this a loud blast of both style and substance, but it refuses to water down its subject matter, taking us through a shockingly profane story in a way that's both visually inventive and emotionally resonant.
This is the story of Bruce (McAvoy), an Edinburgh detective who's determined to beat his colleagues to a promotion. He's also a relentless womaniser, sexist, racist and drug addict. And he'll do anything to get ahead, hiding the sordid details of his private life from his boss (Sessions) while undermining the other cops at any chance while pretending to be their friends. In quick succession, he gets young Ray (Bell) addicted to cocaine, flirts continually with Amanda (Poots), has a fling with the kinky wife (Dickie) of fellow officer Gus (Lewis), torments Peter (Elliott) about his sexuality, and takes Bladesey (Marsan) on a sex-tourism holiday while making obscene calls to his needy wife (Henderson). All of this happens while Bruce leads the investigation into a grisly murder.
McAvoy dives so far into this role that we barely recognise him in there. Bruce is so amoral that we are taken aback by each degrading moment. And yet McAvoy somehow manages to hold our sympathy due to the film's blackly hilarious tone and a startling undercurrent of real emotion. Even though he's a monster, we see his boyish fragility, especially in surreal sequences involving his therapist (Broadbent), which merge with his fantasies, hallucinations and nightmares.
Writer-director Baird holds everything together carefully, miraculously balancing the excessive nastiness with truly wrenching emotions. This is a fast-paced, raucously energetic ride through some very grisly sides of humanity, and we are held in rapt attention from start to finish. Not only is the film an entertaining, razor-sharp look at addiction and ambition, but it's also the kind of movie that gets under our skin and makes us look into the darker corners of our own souls.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 24th April 2014
Box Office USA: $34.3k
Distributed by: Magnet Releasing
Production compaines: Steel Mill Pictures, Logie Pictures, Altitude Film Entertainment, Egoli Tossell Film AG, Entre Chien et Loup, Film House Germany, Filmgate Films, Maven Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 48 Rotten: 29
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Jon S. Baird
Screenwriter: Jon S. Baird
Starring: James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson, Imogen Poots as Amanda Drummond, Jamie Bell as Ray Lennox, Joanne Froggatt as Mary, Eddie Marsan as Bladesey, Emun Elliott as Peter Inglis, Jim Broadbent as Dr. Rossi, Kate Dickie as Chrissie, Shirley Henderson as Bunty, Ron Donachie as Hector, Martin Compston as Gorman, Iain De Caestecker as Ocky, David Soul as Punter, Pollyanna McIntosh as Size Queen, Shauna Macdonald as Carole Robertson, Gary Lewis as Gus Bain, Natasha O'Keeffe as Anna, John Sessions as Bob Toal, Brian McCardie as Dougie Gillman