|"Och, look at me. Being a Scottish cop, I'm a naughty boy with the lassies."|
Dir. Jon S. Baird
Starring: James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is an Edinburgh detective bucking for a promotion and he'll do anything to get it, resorting to underhanded manipulation, gossip and outright lying. This won't be much of a stretch for him. He's such a bad boy, you see. Estranged from his lovely wife and little girl, he's an all-out violent thug, corrupt to the max, addicted to booze, drugs and sex, plus he's suitably hard boiled and rumpled to give everyone the feeling he's unorthodox, but effective. Well, he is unorthodox, but his effectiveness is going to be put to the test, but not before the film indulges us in plenty of naughtiness as well as his drug-addled hallucinations.
He's delightfully repugnant and James McAvoy plays him to the hilt, but the movie, being a bit of a lame duck, doesn't have the courage of its wanna-be Bad Lieutenant convictions. I haven't read the 1998 Irvine (Trainspotting) Welsh novel the film is based on, but surely he must have seen Abel Ferrara's 1992 descent into madness - so grotesquely etched by the brilliant Harvey Keitel - and decided he could outdo it on the mean streets of Edinburgh. This is certainly what Filth feels like, but as a movie, it's a mess.
Constantly pulling its punches, Robertson's nastiness is only intermittently funny and the movie is pitched to be over-the-top, but Baird doesn't quite have the style or vulgarity to pull it off successfully. God knows, I love watching scumbags do their thing, but after about half an hour, it started to become tiresome and in its last third it races to connect a whole mess of dots to show us why Robertson deserves redemption.
Oh, poor naughty policeman, he had a rotten childhood and a sonofabitch for a Daddy and he - really, really - no, I mean really wanted to be a good hubby and daddy, but he's had so much suffering that his only choice was to be a pig, but you know, he could change.
I'd have much preferred him to be an out and out slime bucket without the pathetic whining about his past and crying over the blood under the bridge of a marriage he himself flushed down the toilet. The whole film just feels false, especially a series of unfortunate fantasy sequences with Jim Broadbent ham-boning as a psychiatrist in a realm of psychedelia. In fact, most of the fantasy stuff seems half-baked.
In addition to McAvoy, who truly does work overtime here, it would be remiss not to mention Eddie Marsan. He comes close to stealing scenes as Robertson's cuckolded nebbish buddy from the Masons meetings our cop attends. For Marsan to come close to stealing scenes from McAvoy is truly worth a few hat-doffs. And there is, in all fairness to the film, a pretty funny sequence where the two go carousing in Germany.
Ultimately, it's a movie that wants to have its urinal cake and eat it too, though once it bites into the piss pot deodorizer, it coughs it up. Filth is finally the bad cop movie equivalent of a blow job involving the spitting rather than the swallowing of the motherlode. It's simply no dirty fun at all.
Filth is available on Premium iTunes and cable VOD across Canada and opens Theatrically May 30 via VSC at the following venues: Toronto – Carlton Cinema, Vancouver – Rio Theatre, Saskatoon – Roxy Theatre, Victoria – The Vic.