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Random Review: Filth

Updated on August 12, 2017
Gracchus Gruad profile image

A pop culture addict who loves to talk about movies, music, books, comics, and all of the other things that move and entertain us.


Filth is the story of detective Bruce Robertson, who is scheming to undermine his co-workers at the department to get a promotion. The movie cuts to scenes of his wife who describes their marriage in over the top terms, and talks about how wonderful everything will be once he gets the promotion. There is a murder early on that drives the movie, which is witnessed by someone we assume to be the detective's wife. There is a twist to this which I won't ruin, even though you are likely to figure it out well before the movie's end. Most of the movie is about how Robertson schemes and manipulates to get the promotion he is after. Of course, seeking the big job isn't the only thing occupying his time. He also likes to make obscene phone calls to a lodge brother's wife, which he then proceeds to set up said brother for. He uses his position of authority to abuse and exploit others. And he has a pretty healthy (or rather unhealthy) drug and drinking habit. It also quickly becomes clear that he has some major psychological issues


If the detective had been played by anyone less charming than James McAvoy, the main character would have been completely repugnant. The only reason to watch the movie would be to see him get his just due at film's end. He uses his status as detective to sexually exploit a minor girl. He uses a copier enlargement button to trick a co-worker into having sex with him. He manages to get his friend's wife to engage in both phone sex and actual sex with him, all under the pretense of helping his friend. Other than McAvoy's charisma, the saving grace of the character is the relationship he forms with a woman whose husband he was unable to save after a heart attack. As his schemes begin to unravel we become aware that his life isn't quite how it has been presented to us. We soon realize just how disturbed this man is, even more than we realized while watching be practically the worst person possible. There are parts of the movie that are funny, in a dark and twisted, way, though I can see that not everyone will get or appreciate this particular brand of humor. It is also an interesting insight into the kind of person who builds fantastical constructs of lies and schemes and really thinks they can get away with it indefinitely. This is definitely not a feel good movie, or family friendly fare. But if you enjoy jaded, dark humor and seeing the worst side of humanity, this movie will hold your interest.


The movie also gets some geek cred with a couple of interesting connections. One is that it has Iain De Caestecker, who of course in in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv show. And while the X-Men aren't in the MCU, McAvoy plays Professor X in the newer X-Men movies which are of course based on the Marvel property. The other connection is completely within the X-Men universe. At one point in the movie on Robertson's television there is a show featuring Frank Sidebottom, an entertainer who wore a papier-mache head. This character was the basis of a move called Frank, which starred Michael Fassbender. Fassbender of course plays Magneto opposite McAvoy in the X-Men movies. None of this has any real impact on the movie itself of course, but these little connections are interesting. While this isn't a movie I would recommend for everyone, if you don't need the happy endings or likable characters of standard Hollywood fare I would say give it a try. It definitely won't be the best move you see this year, but it will be one of the more interesting.


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