You wait ages for a film set in your city and then two come along at once. So which Edinburgh-based film should you go and see this Orange Wednesday? Happy, sunny, Proclaimers musical Sunshine on Leith or miserable, dark, Irvine Welsh apdatation Filth? Well I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to experience Peter Mullan singing so Filth it is.
“Naebody steams in like the Edinburgh polis” – Bruce Robertson
Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is the very definition of a dirty cop in this long-awaited adaptation of Welsh’s bestselling Filth. Scheming, bigoted, corrupt, abusive, alcoholic, drug addled Robertson is first in line for a promotion though, if only he can undermine his colleagues and, importantly, keep a grip on reality.
McAvoy is probably not the first person to leap to mind for this character but he plays the roles brilliantly. It would be difficult to have the audience warming to such a despicable character, but McAvoy manages it, slowly revealing more about the fragile mental state of Robertson. Through the occasional gurning to camera, Robertson sometimes lapses into x-rated panto-villian territory, but this is a mercifully scarce reference to the narrative structure of the book. A further aspect of the novel which is difficult to transcribe on to screen is the narration from the point of view from a parasitic tapeworm. Instead we get a truly deranged sequence starring Jim Broadbent as Dr Rossi.
Filth is as sleazy, sordid and dirty as the title suggests. It is filled with a manic energy, caricatures and a truly black sense of humour. There is no subtlety here, but were you really expecting there to be? This is a film that will stay with you, for better or worse.