There’s plenty of sex, drugs and gore in Jon Baird’s high energy adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel Filth (2013), a story of a corrupt drug-addled Edinburgh cop, and some wicked humor too. But not enough of anything else.
Bruce McAvoy seems to enjoy his role as Detective Sergeant Bruce Robinson, and dishes up a tremendous performance. He’s a dirty cop, addicted to sex, booze and cocaine, who’ll stop at nothing to earn a promotion at work. He pits co-workers against each other, pops pills into their drinks, sleeps with their wives. On the job he lies, plants evidence, steals drugs, blackmails young witnesses into having sex.
The set up in the first thirty dark entertaining minutes is full throttle, but not even McAvoy’s chemically-fueled energy can sustain a plot that finds itself so mired in exaggeration that it becomes impossible to be taken seriously.
By the time the demons that haunt and taunt Robinson –and there are many—begin to reveal themselves, he’s already become a character trapped in a caricature of a self-destructive bad bay, surrounded mostly by other cartoonish characters. There are some poignant moments– particularly those with the family of an accident victim he tried to help– but they’re too few and too late. As Robinson begins to spin out of control, so does the movie.
Upshot? I haven’t read a Welsh novel since ‘Trainspotting’; McAvoy’s Detective Sergeant Robinson coerced me into ordering the novel last night. I’ll let you know.