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FILTH (director/writer: Jon S. Baird; screenwriter: from the novel by Irvine Welsh; cinematographer: Matthew Jensen; editor: Mark Eckersley; music: Clint Mansell; cast: James McAvoy (Bruce Robertson), Jamie Bell (Lennox), Shauna Macdonald (Carole), Imogen Poots (Drummond), Gary Lewis (Gus), Jim Broadbent (Dr. Rossi ), Joanne Froggatt (Mary), Shirley Henderson (Bunty), Eddie Marsan (Bladesey), Brian McCardie (Gillman), John Sessions (Toal); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mark Amin/Christian Angermayer/Jon S. Baird/Stephen Mao/Ken Marshall/James McAvoy/Jens Meurer/Celine Rattray/Trudie Styler; Magnolia Pictures; 2013-UK)
“Crude comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Scottish writer-director Jon S. Baird (“Cass”) bases his crude comedy on the 1998 cult bestseller by Irvine Welsh, the Trainspotting author. It paints an unflattering picture of the Scottish police. Of note, the title is Scottish slang for the police.

The sociopathic Edinburgh detective sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), who is on meds for his bi-polar condition, aims to get the up-coming promotion in his department to chief inspector by any means possible and thereby win back his power-hungry estranged wife Carole (Shauna Macdonald)). Bruce is an untrustworthy power-hungry schemer, a bigot, a corrupt officer, and a coke- addict, who is the favorite to get the promotion. He narrates the film, and tells things from his distorted POV.

Bruce is appointed by his superior (John Sessions) to head the brutal murder investigation of a young adult Japanese man in an alley mugging. But Bruce spends his time pitting his department rivals for the post against each other and makes no progress solving the murder. The rivals include the druggie rookie (Jamie Bell). All Bruce’s over the top scheming (snagging their wives, revealing their secrets, drugging, bullying and smearing his rivals with malicious gossip) eventually gets to Bruce’s sanity when he stops taking his meds. After the schemes begin to backfire, Bruce cracks up. The film bravely tries to create some sympathy for its depraved anti-hero.

Imogen Poots is the by-the- book detective rival. Eddie Marsan plays Bruce’s loyal best friend, a meek accountant whose wife (Shirley Henderson) Bruce seduces.

Despite the animated performance by McAvoy, who impersonates a real pig, the crude and incoherent comedy failed to strike my funny bone.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”