Bruce ‘the Stallion’ Robertson: alcoholic, drug addict, compulsive liar, amoral sociopath, sexual pervert – and senior Detective Sergeant. This cheeky adaptation of the novel by Irvine Welsh is a giddy dive into the bleak underbelly of Scottish policing. Bruce (James McAvoy), as with many of Welsh’s anti-heroes, is a ruthless hedonist with a silver tongue, gunning for a top promotion at any cost. But apparitions of his wife and brother (estranged? dead?) suggest he is more complex than your average Glaswegian dipsomaniac.
McAvoy, whose formative years were spent in Drumchapel, clearly revels in playing a grotesque, scheming bastard, and he’s never been better. Yet in spite of the often grisly material (we witness forced underage fellatio within the first 20 minutes) director Jon S. Baird keeps things broad and playful. The odd tone – a Brit-com head with a gritty arthouse heart – won’t be for all tastes, but for the most part,Filth is savagely entertaining: a cathartic, darkly funny portrait of self-destruction. [John Nugent]