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D: Jon S. Baird / 97m

Cast: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, Imogen Poots, John Sessions, Shirley Henderson, Gary Lewis, Kate Dickie, Joanne Froggatt, Jim Broadbent, Emun Elliott

Freewheeling, offensive, scabrous adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel that pushes so many boundaries it’s hard to keep track of them all. No politically incorrect aspect is ignored: homophobia, sexism, racism, substance abuse – all indulged in to within an inch of the script’s life. McAvoy is Detective-Sergeant Bruce Robertson, angling for promotion to Detective-Inspector, but saddled with the small matter of the murder of a Japanese tourist to deal with first. Add to that the manoeuvrings of his fellow Detecive-Sergeants – Poots, Lewis, Bell and Elliott – as well as a subplot involving his wife (Shauna Macdonald), and the mystery of who is making obscene phone calls to fellow lodge member Bladesey’s wife (a panting Henderson), and Bruce has got his work cut out for him. It’s a shame then he has such a dependency for drugs, booze and illicit sex. As the pressure on him builds and he becomes ever more desperate to secure his promotion, Bruce’s world slowly but surely falls apart, and in the process, he starts to see things that aren’t there: from his younger brother Davey, killed in a childhood accident, to increasingly bizarre sequences involving his doctor (Broadbent).

Filth - scene

This is a potent adaptation, with plenty of energy and ‘they-didn’t-did-they?” moments of humour. McAvoy continues to cement his reputation as one of our finest young actors (okay, so he is 34), while amongst the supporting cast, both Marsan (as Bladesey) and Sessions (as Robertson’s boss) shine in their respective roles (it’s particularly good to see Sessions back on the big screen, and in a comic role as well). Baird directs with confidence and integrates the fantasy sequences with aplomb; he also manages the cast effectively and with a firm eye for avoiding caricature. There are times when the movie isn’t for the faint-hearted (“Have you started yet, baby cock?”), but anyone with a fondness for the novel or a penchant for politically incorrect humour will have a ball, especially when it comes to the photocopier game. Much better than you might expect and driven by a powerhouse performance by McAvoy, Filth is a breath of often rancid air that is all the better for not pulling its punches.

Rating: 8/10 – with a title that is far from ironic, Filth lives up to its name but is often searingly funny; a descent into one man’s nightmare that isn’t afraid to look into the abyss and then tell it to f**k off.