For those familiar with my work (good god that sounds pretentious), you might recall last week when I posted a review of “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.” I clamoured on and on in this article about how I loathe and detest the genre that is comedy… Yet, I conversely raved about how “Brits seem to have a direct line to my funny bone,” which eventually led to me building up the aforementioned Steve Coogan flick as the funniest of the year. Soon after this, I sat down and watched another of my most anticipated flicks of the year, Jon S. Baird’s “Filth,” which just so happens to be another hilarious film from the UK, originating from Scotland. Now, I know that there’s no love lost between the segregates of British people, but in all fairness, the English, Scots, Irish, and so on, are all part of one great nation and can all be deemed “British.” Therefore, my theory regarding comedy, the British, and my own, bizarre, dark comedic taste remains as truthful as ever.
Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same title, which is one of my most cherished reads. “Filth” is every bit as vile as the dirty images and abhorrent actions the word conjures up in your brain. It’s repulsive, violent, vulgar, abusive, indulgent, sociopathic, misogynistic, sexually deplorable, and darkly hilarious. That being said, it doesn’t quite knock “Alpha Papa” from the throne of hilarity I’ve bestowed upon it, but “Filth” does exceed its brethren in nearly every other emotional and cinematic aspect. However, as you’ve probably assumed by now (I hope), this flick is really for those with a taste for the gritty and grotesque. So (I feel idiotic for even having to point this out), do not watch “Filth” if you are…delicate, you know, easily offended. Because if you happen to be the “morally stable” type, I can confidently guarantee that it won’t sit well with you and that you’ll be scrubbing “Filth” endlessly from your underbelly to no avail…
Now, if you’re like me and have a rather…unique taste in film, there’s hardly anything shocking in the goings on of this flick that you haven’t been previously exposed to. Don’t get me wrong though, “Filth” is plenty filthy. I’m simply stating that one, like myself, shouldn’t go into the film expecting to be knocked off their feet from disgust, depravity, and peril. I’ve seen the very worst, disturbing, unhinged things that cinema has to offer and the dirt here doesn’t exactly rival those that rely on inhumanity as a crutch. What I’m saying is that the filth is hardly the driving point of “Filth,” merely a contrast, a theme, a device to assist in nailing our humanity home. To phrase it better, I’ve never seen such selfish, stoic, savage behaviour used so effectively and tastefully. The honest moments of vulnerability, fear, and love in this film is what makes “Filth” so utterly disconcerting, not the extent of ones indifference to the well being of others or themselves.
Directed by the aforementioned Jon S. Baird, who also wrote the screenplay, “Filth” explores the depths and extremes of the human psyche. Constructed as a series of repugnant acts playing out through a man suffering from the destruction of his family while he fights for a promotion. Baird’s adaptation might not stay completely true to the source material, yet is able to conjure up a rather empathetic, aching, scummy story while keeping the darkness above all else. “Filth” really is an exploration of contrasts, take for example, it’s soundtrack. There’s a scene in which a group of people spontaneously jump into a merry, disheartening chorus staring into the camera dead on, sufficiently demolishing the fourth wall, just mere minutes before and after such foulness has graced the screen. I don’t know who’s responsible for such artistic structure, but they should be applauded. Baird really triumphs thoroughly with his latest outing.
Now, before I get into praising James McAvoy, I’d like to give a shout-out to “Filth’s” outstanding supporting cast comprised of Jim Broadbent, Imogen Poots, and Jamie Bell, amongst others. Broadbent definitely takes his bizarre, hallucinogenic role to the next level with a charismatic, descriptively insane performance. Whether he’s ripping out the innards of our unstable lead, causing uproarious laughs with his sporadic mannerisms, or forcing disheartening realizations, Broadbent really pushes the film to the next level. Poots continues to display why she’s one of the most talented up-and-comers. She’s striking, unrelenting, sexy, and immensely astounding. As for Bell, who should really get more chances to strut his stuff, what can I say, he once again proves he’s got the chops to hang with the best. McAvoy, oh James McAvoy…simply put, McAvoy is bloody brilliant, his mannerisms, laugh, voice, beard, everything. The way he looks at the camera and breaks the fourth wall is enough to give you chills and his emotional output is heart-wrenching. His performance alone makes “Filth” worth the watch.
Featuring one of the performances of the year from James McAvoy, evoking countless reactions and tugging at the viewers heart strings. “Filth” is a rare cinematic achievement in which humanities lowest points cause the film to soar to dizzying heights.
Filth: 9 out of 10.