Whatever nice-guy image James McAvoy had been cultivating for himself throughout his career, his latest film choices suggest that he is now actively trying to destroy it; even the nasty shades of grey characters that he played in recent outings Welcome To The Punch and Trance don't hold a candle to the all engulfing darkness that is his Detective Bruce Robinson. Sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, alcoholic, drug addict, cheating on his wife with the wives and girlfriends of his friends, this isn't just a Bad Lieutenant. This is the Worst Lieutenant there's ever been.
With a new murder case dropped on his desk and the prospect of a promotion dangled in front of whoever solves it, Robinson goes into overdrive to tear down the careers and personal lives of all around him in order to make himself look better. But he's such an incredibly damaged man, he doesn't realise that all this wrong-doing is bringing about a long overdue nervous and mental breakdown upon him.
In case you haven't noticed, Filth is Dark with a capital D. It goes out of its way to offend, but unlike Pain & Gain or Spring Breakers which were filled with nasty people doing bad things and getting away with it for the longest time, the repercussions of Robinson's actions are all too clear right from the get-go. This, coupled with McAvoy's staggeringly powerful performance, means that even as we watch this man go from bad to worse, we can't help but feel a certain amount of sympathy for him.
McAvoy is also aided by a who's who of great British acting talent, but he is undercut by some of the script's failings. It takes a good 40 minutes for the movie to find its tonal feet, every scene involving Jim Broadbent as a fantasized Australian therapist completely pulls you out of the movie, and the ending feels like a rushed "WTF?" twist rather than a natural progression of the story.
So, like the movie's main character, it's a bit of a mess, but it's a shocking, upsetting, and ultimately entertaining mess.
Review by Rory Cashin | 12:22 | Monday 30th September 2013 | Movie Review