James McAvoy is stuck in a rut.
Whatever the film, whatever the situation, you know that at some point there is going to be a close up of his face while he laughs
manically down the camera. filth
It seems to have become something of a trademark. And sure enough,
it pops up in Filth a couple of times.
But what is so marvelous is that for once it actually works. Jon S. Baird’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel sees McAvoy play Bruce Robertson, a dirty Scottish detective who is out for promotion and willing to engage in a healthy bit of back-stabbing
to make sure that he gets it, treading on who he needs to with
twisted glee. Pursuing the brutal murder of student by day,filth
Robertson spends the majority of his time manipulating his colleagues,
screwing their wives and making lewd phone calls. His world is
presented as one rank high,filth where drugs and women are plentiful.
When the inevitable comedown hits, you are taken down with
him, where you start to question your own sanity as pigs and
witches start appearing at every turn and everything begins to
look bleak in the cold light of day.
What is perhaps surprising is just how funny all of this is. In a
different pair of hands we could have been dealt another gritty
but Baird manages to bring out the humour of Welsh’s black story, not least thanks to Jim Broadbent as the wonderfully disturbing Dr Rossi.
So easily Baird could have tried to simply out-grime Trainspotting.
He shows a keen ability to not overwork certain stylistic techniques, too – McAvoy looks straight down the lens enough to underscore a point, for example,
but not so much that you feel like you’re trapped in an episode of Miranda; hardly a show with a supporting cast like this one.
Most, perhaps with the exception of Shirley Henderson, who seems intent on playing every role as Moaning Myrtle, very nearly match McAvoy in excellence,
who here gives his best performance yet, as Bruce Robertson becomes an unlikely sympathy case in a British film very close to perfection.
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