** (out of 5)
May 30, 2014
James McAvoy as BRUCE
Jamie Bell as LENNOX
Eddie Marsan as BLADESEY
Imogen Poots as DRUMMOND
Brian McCardie as GILLMAN
Emun Elliott as INGLIS
Gary Lewis as GUS
Studio: Magnet Releasing
Directed by: Jon S. Baird
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If you’re unfamiliar with the film “Filth,” the first piece of information you might swerve into when looking it up is that it’s written by the same guy who wrote “Trainspotting.” With the movie’s Scottish location and characters with thick Scottish accents, you might be tempted to think it’s going to be like “Trainspotting.”
And sure, it’s clear to see “Filth” and “Trainspotting” coming from the same mind. Both are out-of-the-box stories featuring undesirables as the main characters. They both also have plenty of seedy elements to the story. However, the biggest difference comes from the directing.
Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting” is a work of sheer genius, with a frenetic energy and a seemingly effortless delivery. “Filth” tries to keep that same tone, but Jon S. Baird just doesn’t have the same touch that Boyle does. The movie turns out okay, but it’s ultimately a forgettable film.
“Filth” stars James McAvoy as a corrupt Scottish detective angling for a promotion. However, in order to secure the job, he needs to sabotage the chances of all the other internal competition at the force. He is then put in charge of a murder investigation that he can’t seem to distance himself from. All the while, he is struggling with his own personal demons that have impact his life as a husband and father.
I know this will make me sound like a big, dumb American, but one of my biggest struggles with “Filth” was getting past the dialogue. Unlike “Trainspotting,” which had similarly thick accents but had the advantage of DVD subtitles, “Filth” becomes twice as hard to follow when you can only understand part of what is being said. Here is where the nuance is lost on anyone who isn’t used to listening to the accent. Unlike “Under the Skin,” which has a similar location and similar accents but much less relevant dialogue, “Filth” has a lot happening in the dialogue that was lost on me.
I suppose that’s not the fault of the filmmakers, but it did cause a problem for me to view the film.
Still, even if I had a Playbill that summarized each scene for me, I doubt this would have appealed to me as much as I would hope. I just couldn’t get on the side of McAvoy’s character. It’s not that I can’t get on the side of a terrible person in a movie. There are plenty of anti-heroes in cinema history that I enjoy watching. The problem with the lead character is that I found no common ground. He was just a terrible person, and he was trapped in a cage of his own design. I found no sympathy or understanding.
Similar to the film “Dom Hemingway,” which I have recently seen, “Filth” presents itself as a possible story of redemption, but I see no real movement or growth in that direction. Instead, it’s a “man behaving badly” extravaganza that only kept my interest for a short while.
While it has some merits and some strong performances, “Filth” simply isn’t terribly entertaining and more of a chore to get through.