Bruce Robertson is neither hero nor villain. He is a train-wreck. And watching him mentally derail is a fascinating 97 minutes.
Late to the game, I had my first experience with Trainspotting only weeks ago. The world of drugged-up Scottish hallucination and intoxication was brutal and new, and I loved it. Danny Boyle’s adaptation delivered without compromise and without apology. Versions of Irvine Welsh’s other novels have been adapted since (The Acid House, Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy) yet none have deserved the same cult appreciation as Trainspotting…until Filth.
There has been talk of Boyle filming a sequel to Trainspotting, however, I feel Filth is the perfect counterpart. James McAvoy is a blurry-eyed, Scottish police detective who starts each day with whisky breath and snort of cocaine. The leading man claws at a promotion he believes might settle his domestic agony while he spirals out of control, destroying himself more and more as the film continues. He has the qualities of a scheming villain but the sheer desperation and ferocious mental torment in McAvoy’s performance will draw out sympathy in any audience, even if detective Bruce Robertson is truly filthly.
Even with its dark shades of drug abuse and devastation, you will be laughing and tapping your feet. The soundtrack jumps back to the late 50’s with The Shirelles and heads on through to covers of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ – although more varied than Trainspotting’s soundtrack, it is equally as effective and utterly essential.
Scottish director, Jon S. Baird has written a script littered with comical moments. The superbly conflicting characters make for plenty of laughter in the first fifty minutes, but as the last forty are explored you will grow quiet as the comedy fades and consequences catch up.
All bets are off in terms of this film’s production. Some scenes are set in the unstable mind of the protagonist where arguments are had and the past is relived, the audience is puzzled by a wife lacking colour, and coked up visions blurt mid-dialogue leaving viewers feeling as disturbed as Bruce.
The performance James McAvoy gives is unarguably first class. His portrayal is harsh and honest; he even admitted that he drank every night whilst filming in order to wake up feeling as Bruce did. Other cast members such as Eddie Marsan and Shirley Henderson suit their roles perfectly; and in amongst the realism Jim Broadbent provides one of the film’s nuttier spectacles. However, you will not soon forget McAvoy’s authentic display which rightly steals the show.
So, if the prospect of an immoral, drug-addled copper storming his way through sexual encounters, a constant stream of cocaine and alcohol, with plans of ambitious manipulation – if that sounds up your street, then this might be just the filth for you.