Director: Jon S. Baird (2013)
Starring: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan
Find it: IMDB

A film which was released in October and I have seen three times already. A film which apparently gets better every time I see it. A film which I gave a 3/5 the first time I saw it, a 4/5 the second time I watched it and, finally, 5/5 last time. I guess next time I see Filth, it'll have achieved 6/5. By the time I watch it for the umpteenth time, it'll have achieved self-awareness.

I have never claimed to be one of those impartial, objective reviewer types, but there is something about Filth which really speaks to me, making it one of the best films I've seen in years. Maybe it's because James McAvoy is also incapable of growing a beard, instead winding up with a crap gingery, pube-esque stubble through which you can still sort of see the outline of a chin. Shit beard growers of the word, unite.

McAvoy plays Filth, a medium-ranking police officer suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism and a severe bipolar disorder. Determined to score himself a big promotion, Filth bullies, lies and undermines his way around his colleagues while also attempting to solve an all-important murder case on the way. Meanwhile, the hallucinations and delusions get ever worse, with Filth Bruce rapidly spiralling out of control. I read Irvine Welsh's Filth in preparation for its UK cinema release. It quickly climbed the charts to become one of the best things I've ever read.

As such, Baird's adaptation was initially a disappointment. There's not even a tapeworm. The film baulks at the darkness of Welsh's novel, cutting back and toning down much of its excesses. Honestly, I just wanted the tapeworm. But then, as I watched the film for a second and third time, I came to appreciate Filth for what it was - watchable. Honestly, if they'd left in everything the film cut out, you'd be left with something as unwatchable as Salo. And, besides, this version has an insane energy all of its own.

McAvoy is mesmerising as the almost irredeemable Bruce Robertson. Grubby, nasty, horrible and yet charismatic in spite of it all, it's a fascinating portrayal of a very Scottish Bad Leuitenant. It's not hard to imagine Nicolas Cage playing Bruce in an American remake. Around him, the film thrives on its surrealist scenes of fantasy, animation, impromptu musical numbers and, um, Jim Broadbent with a massive head (essentially standing in for a tapeworm). Eddie Marsan, Shauna Macdonald, Jamie Bell and Imogen Poots all impress in supporting roles, while John Sessions is the most bearable he's ever been.  

Since its release, Filth has quickly become a solid favourite. Even better, its Christmas setting makes it a great festive watch. This isn't the Filth of the novel, but it's gorgeous all the same.

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