Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Filth, or: Remarkable Levels of Desensitization

Last week of free reign until mindless gory horror month begins in…2 days?!?!?!?! 2 DAYS. So ready.

My pick this time around is Filth, which I have been meaning to watch forever but have been avoiding (STUPIDLY) because I didn’t want to watch Jamie Bell act like a complete sleaze bucket. Billy Elliot is one of my favorite bad day films, and I didn’t want to watch it at some point in the future and think about Billy snorting coke and visiting prostitutes a few years down the road.

Christa beat me to the punch on this one, but she was cool with watching again b/c she’s in general a cool human being. You can find her thoughts, various and sundry, here.

The Film:


Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

James McAvoy plays Bruce Robertson, corrupt cop, backstabber, and all-around scumbag scheming for a promotion in Edinburgh.

The Uncondensed Version:

This is tricky because I have a lot of things to say about this film, but it’s reasonably important not to give everything away.

I’d say there are essentially a series of mysteries surrounding Bruce’s character, the main one being whether or not he will land the big promotion that he’s doing his best to lie and manipulate his way into. According to some kind of bizarre scenes with Bruce’s wife, the promotion is the only thing that can fix whatever has happened between them and make her respect him again. When Bruce is assigned to a murder case, everything hinges on whether he can catch the skinheads who brutally murdered a Japanese student.

Right off the bat it’s clear that (1) James McAvoy is beautiful and I forgot how perfect his voice is, and (2) Bruce has issues. With anger, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual relationships (and, in fact, all human relationships), lying, and feeling absolutely no remorse. He tells us how great Scotland is while looking absolutely disgusted with humanity and making small children cry. Needless to say, this film made a great impression within the first 15 minutes.

A man covers his ears as he passes another man playing bagpipes on a street corner
Not a fan of the bag pipes. The shame.

Bruce introduces us to his coworkers (including Jamie Bell/Billy Elliot and Billy Elliot’s dad!), all of whom he is actively trying to sabotage in order to guarantee his promotion. So Bruce works on the murder case, but it really takes a backseat to having affairs, spreading nasty rumors, and making everyone uncomfortable.

Just to emphasize what a shitty human being Bruce is, we have Cliff, his best and only friend. Bruce is making anonymous calls of a suggestive nature to Cliff’s wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson wearing a shitload of make up). Since Cliff is a prominent accountant, the case is supposed to get Bruce’s first priority…and it does. Just not in the way his superiors probably intended.

A man and woman look across at each other from opposite ends of a white sofa. Behind them is a large painting of a lion attacking a zebra.
Have I mentioned I want their living room??? Because I want their living room.  THAT PAINTING.

This is all going reasonably well for Bruce until he tries and fails to revive a man who collapses on the street. After this incident, Bruce seems to be genuinely disturbed as he’s haunted by visions of a dead child. It also becomes clear that things aren’t as great on the home front, esp. as we never actually see Bruce interact with his wife and child.

For the remainder of the film, Bruce just continues to lose his shit while experiencing increasingly vivid hallucinations of various people as animals. Also his psychiatrist, Jim Broadbent with a an Australian accent, who reminds him only winners get laid and that you should trust no one, especially not yourself. So basically the same thing any psychiatrist would say, right?

A man in a labcoat gestures to a framed picture of worm-like creatures
IDK if you guys have ever done therapy, but this is exactly how it went for me.

Okay, that’s all I’ll say because if you enjoy films in which absolutely everyone is despicable, the humor is pitch black, and the protagonist is certifiably insane, you may want to actually watch this one. Or at least stare at James McAvoy’s beautiful face. Either way, I don’t want to ruin this film for you.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Even though this movie was disgusting and depraved, it’s really hard to shock me any more (which I attribute to Wetlands).  Have I just become so desensitized that nothing disturbs me any more???  Is our blog collab taking that much of a toll on my mental health???  I’d like to see you prove that in a court of law.  Still…I think more disturbing than the scenes designed to repulse viewers is how remorselessly Bruce manipulates everyone to get what he wants.  Also how attractive James McAvoy is even as the sleaziest dirtbag ever.

Not a perfect film, but James McAvoy losing his shit is the best kind of James McAvoy. All of the acting in this one was spot-on, honestly.

The only down side is I really, really want to watch Trainspotting again now. It’s on Netflix, Christa! Eh, eh, eh?

Speak of the devil…you know Christa has a lot of delightfully snarky things to say about this film. Why are you still here when you could be reading her review here?