People always say “It’s not as good as the book!”. Imagine having to take Irvine Welsh’s widely well-received ‘Filth’ and make it a success on the big screen. Then imagine doing it after the immensely talented Danny Boyle made ‘Trainspotting’, Welsh’s original masterpiece. Quite a hard act to follow isn’t it?
Set in Edinburgh, the murder of a Japanese student occurs and allows Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) to take charge of the investigation. Bruce and his colleague Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell), along with other members of the department, are eyeing up a promotion to Detective Inspector. Bruce is a man who cares more for alcohol and drugs than the people around him. A man who takes pure delight in the demise of his colleagues by playing twisted mind games. A man who suffers severe bouts of hallucination through the on-off flashbacks to the death of his younger brother and regular mind-tripping visits to Dr. Rossi (Jim Broadbent).
Upon first watching the trailer for Filth I thought I was going to be watching a comedy/crime drama which could sit on par with something like Snatch. For me, this is different. Parts of the film had me laughing, parts had me wincing, parts had me angry but every single part of it had me gripped. I love going to the cinema apart from the whole time thinking about how my arse is getting more and more numb as the film goes on. You don’t get that with this. The time flies by because no matter which direction the film goes, you can not take your eyes off it. The intensity is there through every scene. A transition of emotions through a cocktail of subjects such as racism, bigotry, addiction, homosexuality and violence. You try and put all that and more into a film, it would be hard to keep up.
James McAvoy is outstanding in this central role. I could argue with myself all day that he’s done better but my conclusion would always be the same. He hasn’t. All of the emotions I experienced whilst watching Filth we’re expertly delivered by McAvoy. Don’t get me wrong, the supporting cast is very good but this film is all about the evolution of James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson. The ensemble of Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent and the instantly recognisable Eddie Marson (Bladesey) play very good characters to support McAvoy which allows the focus to remain on the lead role, as it should.
Something has to be said for the script of this film. Obviously taking an original script and adapting it for cinematic production is easier than creating your own (no arguments please) but simply providing words wouldn’t make this film what it is. The dialect in this film stays true to that of Irvine Welsh’s original book, which allows any key phrases or words to have so much more punch to it than your regular verbal delivery. Any professional cast could read a script in a Scottish accent and make it work but McAvoy, Bell and co make this all the more entertaining, more real.
With any film, any good film, I believe you need three factors:
1. Get a great story – CHECK
2. Get the best actors – CHECK
3. Make sure it’s got some shit hot music – CHECK
This soundtrack is possibly one of the most eclectic I’ve heard. I’m really struggling to think of others. As with my previous statement about the use of dialect, anyone can make a good soundtrack. All you have to do is choose good songs, surely? The key to this soundtrack is not only the range of songs used but the placement of each unexpected track during the film. The music master for Filth is Clint Mansell, whose work includes Requiem For A Dream. A Coventry lad first and foremost but a fantastic composer too. Keep an eye out for his own incredible version of Creep – Radiohead. I don’t imagine Irvine Welsh thought an adaptation of his book could have a range including ‘Born To Be Wild’ by Duane Allman, ‘Backdoor Santa’ by Clarence Carter, ‘Dr. Love’ by Tom Jones and ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ by Billy Ocean to name a few, but it works, obviously.
This film is a proper piece of work. Very intense and very gripping, powerful to say the least. It’s also not for the faint-hearted. Do not be put off by any fools that say it’s a bit close to the bone because they don’t know what they’re talking about. Well, they sort of do, just don’t let them put you off is what I’m saying.
More importantly, enjoy James McAvoy in his most powerful and dominant display to date.