Cert: 18 / 98 mins / Dir. Jon S. Baird
So, I wouldn't go so far as to call the novel unfilmable, but when I heard Irvine Welsh's horrifying helter-skelter of a book was being adapted to the screen I remember thinking 'Filth? …Filth, Filth? How the hell are you going to make that?. Fast-forward many months later, and I've got my answer: ^ Like that ^. Screenwriter and director Baird has grabbed the bull by both horns, and translated a version that's very largely faithful to the original, while still having its own light to shine. I don't mean to be one of those book>film pedants, but there really is a lot to live up to here, and the film really does manage it.
James McAvoy is shaping up to be one of this generation's most versatile actors, and he positively embraces the chance to play alcoholic, coke-addled sociopath Bruce Robertson, and a large amount of screen-time is spent in his head, living the world through his hallucinations and splintered world-view. Truth be told, the entire cast throw themselves fully into the fray, because there's really no other way to approach this. As Bruce's habits and their respective tolls escalate, everyone around him gets to twist the proverbial knife, and the adaptation from page to screen meant that even I was wondering how far things were going to go.
I do think certain aspects could have been handled better. Without being spoilery, there's a huge amount of effort expended on making Bruce an unlikeable character, but he never quite earns the pity of the viewer, no matter how pathetic his actions. In order for the film's punchline to work, you really need that pity, otherwise it comes off as flippant, and that's not what I took from the book. I think an extra fifteen minutes or so exploring Bruce's inner psyche with a calmer tone would have worked wonders. But there, I've become the kind of book>film twat I mentioned earlier. Ah, well.
Short version: If you enjoyed the more hallucinogenic aspects of Trainspotting, you'll get a lot out of Filth. Welsh proves once again that you can be flexible with your linear narrative if you throw enough fucked up situations at the reader/viewer and a few crowning reveal shots. Given the scope of the project, Filth is nothing short of magnificent. A version incorporating deleted scenes would be perfect, thank you.
Very nearly almost. It should certainly be commended for what it does achieve..
If you can see it in a cinema, do, but it should be every bit as fucked up watching at home.
I'd like to see MacAvoy in the new Star Wars films. Tell me why I'm right, please…
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