Filth (2013)

It’s a filthy job getting to the top, especially for corrupt Edinburgh cop, Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), who’s determined to secure a promotion to detective inspector. Drug-abusing and hard-drinking, he’s willing to do whatever means necessary to get what he wants. I’m always a sucker for any film starring James McAvoy. In comedy-drama Filth, adapted from Irvine Welsh’s novel, he portrays an almost irredeemable character, who also appears to be losing his mind…


The brilliance of Filth is largely due to McAvoy’s portrayal of Irvine Welsh’s character, Bruce Robertson. McAvoy is fearless in his interpretation, effortlessly conveying the nastiness, arrogance and corruption of Bruce. From plotting against his colleagues, bullying his best friend, grabbing a kid’s balloon and letting it float away, to being a complete pervert – Bruce is a monster. But man, he’s still so fun to watch.

I always find the bad guys and the anti-heroes way more entertaining than the regular run-of-the-mill good guys. Bruce’s behaviour is a result of childhood trauma and severe mental health issues.

The murder of a Japanese student is what drives the plot, and Bruce’s promotion hinges on his ability to solve the case. But, his endless drinking, cocaine-snorting, disturbing visions and hallucinations keep throwing him off course. Although most of his antics are horrendous, it’s all executed in comical fashion. Plenty of scenes made me laugh, but the humour is very dark so you’ve been warned. The film takes us on a momentous journey through the streets of Scotland, where Bruce is pushed to the limits.


Filth isn’t as good as Welsh’s previous adapted novel Trainspotting, as it doesn’t have the same level of spirit and freshness. It relies more on shock value and testing the audience’s expectations, which bearing in mind, it does do excellently because there are a few surprises. Also, Bruce is the only fully fleshed-out character whereas, in Trainspotting, the characters feel more distinct. Filth is a one-man show, as McAvoy dominates and lights up every scene.

Although it has its flaws, such as the story going slightly astray in the latter stages, Filth is one hell of a movie. It’s fun, daring, outlandish and a little bit weird. And there’s no doubt in my mind that McAvoy has delivered one of his greatest performances.



Filth is the kind of film you will either love or hate. It’s an outrageous comedy and I would suggest that viewers who are easily offended to maybe think twice before watching it.  “There will be people who walk out the cinema”, quoted from McAvoy himself!

I really recommend this movie to anyone looking for something different from the norm. Also, if you’ve read the book then you may want to see how the film compares.

Quoted: “Same rules apply.”

Director: John S. Baird

Stars: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan

Writers: John S. Baird (screenplay) Irvine Walsh (novel)

Distributor: Lionsgate (UK)

Run Time: 97 min.

Let me know your thoughts on this review in the comment section!

You can also read my review of Trainspotting here.


3 thoughts on “Filth (2013)

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