James MacAvoy plays a drug taking, violent police officer, manipulating everyone around him in order to gain a promotion which he believes will bring him and his wife back together again.
The protagonist Bruce Robertson uses his authority in order to gain sexual favours from women, such as the young girl he tries to coerce into giving him oral sex, and the office secretary he tricks into having sex with him by using the enlarge function on the photocopier to make her think he has a bigger penis.
Bruce uses all the tricks he possible can to intimidate, bully, and turn everyone else against each other, in order to become the most eligible for the promotion. He believes that the promotion will make his wife come home again, as she will be attracted to his success.
By the end of the film, a younger character, who James used to dominate, who was depicted as having a “small penis”, gets the promotion that Bruce wanted so badly. This is too much for Bruce to bear (that he be inferior to such an individual) and contributes to his suicide.
Throughout the film, Bruce uses women, tricking them into doing what he wants using various methods. By the end of the film, he is raped by one of his lovers who demands sex from him. This signals his downfall.
Representations of Mental Illness
Bruce’s coworker emplores him to seek help, but he brushes her off, thinking it’s some sort of tactic to rise through the ranks (ahead of him).
The film ends with Bruce choosing suicide over the love of a new lover, who is presented as a kind recently widowed mother of a young boy.
- Running Time
- 97 min.
- United Kingdom
- Jon S. Baird
- Jon S. Baird (Novel: Irvine Welsh)
- Matthew Jensen
- James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Joanne Froggatt, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent, Emun Elliott, Kate Dickie, Shirley Henderson, Ron Donachie, Martin Compston, Iain De Caestecker, Pollyanna McIntosh
- Production Co.
- Steel Mill Pictures / Logie Pictures / Altitude Film Entertainment
- Thriller. Comedy | Black comedy. Crime. Drugs
- Synopsis / Plot
- A bipolar bigoted junkie cop, manipulates and hallucinates his way through the festive season in a bid to secure promotion and win back his wife and daughter. Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), a corrupt, cocaine-snorting, hard-drinking Edinburgh cop, is angling for a promotion to detective inspector, and is prepared to secure it by any means necessary. After a messy marriage split, however, his mind might not be as sharp as it was…
- Critics Reviews
“Baird sticks quite faithfully to Welsh’s novel, though he dilutes its relentlessly nasty tone and changes some minor plot points (…) Filth is still a hugely entertaining breath of foul air”
Stephen Dalton : The Hollywood Reporter
“This descent into Scotch-marinated madness begins as ugly comedy, segues imperceptibly into farcical tragedy, and inevitably — perhaps intentionally — loses control in the process”
Guy Lodge: Variety
“A bulked-up James McAvoy dominates the screen in this razor-sharp Glasgow smile of a black comedy, packed with aberrant sex, hard drugs and maximum David Soul. (…) Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)”
Damon Wise: Empire
“After a certain point, watching it is like listening to the ravings of an increasingly incoherent and abusive drunk.”
Stephen Holden: The New York Times
“‘Filth’ (…) is wired to explode. Even when the film falls to pieces, McAvoy’s bonkers brilliance will blow you away. (…) Rating: ★★★ (out of four)”
Peter Travers: Rolling Stone