'Filth' has split critics, but many agree it is still a film worth watching, if you can handle it
Filth is the James McAvoy-starring movie adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name, about a debauched police officer scheming his way through life. Starring as Dt. Bruce Robertson, McAvoy snorts and shags his way through the night, and lies and cheats his way to the top during the day. It is a gritty subject and one that has been both applauded and abhorred by opposing critics.
McAvoy tries to climb the white ladder to success
Robertson is a devious and emotionally unstable fellow, indulging in sordid sexual activities and dabbling in as many drugs he can get his get his nostrils on. When he is on duty, his actions hardly change, only when he is there he has his eyes on the lucrative promotion to Detective Sergeant, and will stop at nothing to ensure he gets what he wants. Whilst struggling with an unpredictable bipolar disorder and desperate to resolve things with his ex-wife, his mental state becomes increasingly worse as he attempts to keep on top of his lies, whilst also attempting to get to the bottom of a murder case with as little effort as posible.
This is a racy film, and as such it was always going to polarise critics, and this is exactly what has happened. But one thing that critics do seem to agree on is that this could very well be McAvoy's best performance to date, as the Scottish actor has been routinely praised for his portrayal of the drug-addled policeman. Empire Magazine's Damon Wise called the film excellent, and said McAvoy "dominates the screen in this razor-sharp Glasgow smile of a black comedy, packed with aberrant sex, hard drugs and maximum David Soul."
Our own review of the movie, our resident film critic Rich Cline applauds James for diving into the role so deeply that "we barely recognise him" as Bruce Robertson. Elsewhere Adam Woodward of Little White Lies said Filth was "A major career refresh for James McAvoy who excels as an insanely crooked copper."
McAvoy is at war with himself, and everyone in his way, in Filth
Whilst McAvoy has gotten the bulk of the praise for the film, this left a lot of room for criticism to be found. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw complained that the film is lacking in any defined structure or genre. He explains, "here isn't enough humour for it to qualify as comedy, and not enough reality or plausible characterisation to justify calling it any sort of procedural noir."
Similarly, Nigel Andrews' review for the Financial Times moans about the lack of definition in the film, commenting that the "drama has been mugged by melodrama," rendering the purpose of film almost non-existant. Still, Dave Calhoun from Time Out loved it, and his appraisal may be enough to sway your opinion on whether or not you want to see it, as he promises, "you'll be scraping this film out from under your fingernails for weeks."
Filth arrives in cinemas on 4 October.