James McAvoy’s Filth takes us on a bizarre journey as he plays an off-the-rails detective who we follow through murder investigation while he tries to gain a promotion. Based on the novel by the same name, Filth certainly lives up to its title. The film somehow manages to be hilarious, weird, gross, and offensive all at the same time.
At first you are surprised at how much you despise McAvoy’s character; a profane, sex-crazed drug addict and alcoholic who does not have many redeeming qualities. He is absolutely despicable and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even at the expense of everyone around him including his so-called friends. From police brutality to crank calls and drug abuse, there is nothing this man won’t do. However, as the film rolls along and we really get into the story you really start to feel sympathy for this character. We get deeper into his mind as he spirals out of control, and the movie slowly becomes more compelling. The story becomes more gripping as we start to make sense of what is actually going on.
You never know what’s going to happen next, and that is one of the charms of the film. Right up until the fantastic ending of the film, you never know what’s coming. The film breaks the fourth wall on occasion in a clever way; in one instance before he slips drugs in his friend’s drink he winks at the audience. Some of the breaks in his sanity are very bizarre as well, especially where he has some very strange visions. Jammed full of obscenities, bizarre dream sequences, even some singing, and somewhat of a twist ending it makes for a half-decent film if you want to watch something that’s off the beaten path.
James McAvoy is absolutely flawless in his performance, and he carries the entire film. Especially as the film enters the third act, that is when we truly get to see McAvoy’s skill as an actor as well as when the film becomes far more intriguing. It is fantastic to see a whole other side of him, and to see him perform in his native and sometimes hard to understand Scottish accent. He is disgusting, tormented, juvenile, and yet somehow remains sympathetic. McAvoy, who also in part narrates the film, really brings you inside the mind of this character; you really feel his pain.
While not a film for the easily offended, if you can make it to the end you won’t be disappointed. This is the type of movie that will certainly spark some conversation with whomever you watch it with.
Filth is available on DVD/Blu Ray on August 12.