Matt Adcock’s film review: Filth isn’t an easy film to watch, but McAvoy’s powerhouse performance makes it work

James McAvoy in Filth
James McAvoy in Filth
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“So, Bruce, what made you join the force?”

“Police oppression, brother.”

“Ah – you wanted to stamp it out from the inside?”

“No, I wanted to be a part of it!”

Prepare yourself for a seriously messed up, unhinged, sordid and morally destitute tale from the mind of Irvine ‘Trainspotting’ Welsh.

It’s Filth by name and pretty much filthy throughout – it’s not a film for those adverse to copious swearing, drug use, disturbing psychotic scenes and sexual material

But even though director Jon S. ‘Cass’ Baird takes a running jump over the boundaries of good taste the film works, thanks almost entirely to a powerhouse performance from James McAvoy in the lead role.

The plot of Filth follows the unhappy Sgt Bruce Robertson (McAvoy), a broken, bitter man whose corrupt heart is eating him away from the inside.

Bruce is a bipolar, bigoted junkie who strives to manipulate everyone around him.

He’s the ‘wrong arm of the law’ writ large and we get to spend a festive season with him as he struggles to keep a grip on life while guilt-induced hallucinations crash their way into his waking hours.

All he wants is to secure the promotion to detective inspector that is in the offing, because he thinks that getting a step up will help him win back his estranged wife and daughter.

Caught up in the maelstrom of Bruce’s self-imploding life are his work colleagues who include promotion rivals such as young gun Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell) and hotshot sexy WPC Amanda Drummond (Imogen Poots).

Bruce works tirelessly to scupper his colleagues right under the nose of the unwitting Chief Insp Toal (John Sessions).

As Bruce tries to turn his colleagues against one another by stealing their wives and exposing their secrets, he begins to lose himself in a web of deceit that he can no longer control and his sanity starts to slip.

Can anything save Bruce as he careers headlong into a messy moral void?

It might not be pleasant subject matter but it is a riveting/revolting ride watching to see if he can keep his grip on reality long enough to disentangle himself from the tidal wave of filth.

Filth is superbly put together, due in no small part to the excellent editing.

Funny, filthy and harrowing – Filth is a grimy treat for those who can deal with the seedy underbelly of modern life.