ⓘ Filth (film)


ⓘ Filth (film)

Filth is a 2013 British black comedy crime film written and directed by Jon S. Baird, based on Irvine Welshs novel Filth. The film was released on 27 September 2013 in Scotland, 4 October 2013 elsewhere in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, and 30 May 2014 in the United States. It stars James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, and Jim Broadbent.


1. Plot

Bruce Robertson is a Detective Sergeant in Edinburgh, Scotland, who is a scheming, manipulative, misanthropic bully who spends his free time indulging in drugs, alcohol, abusive sexual relationships, and "the games" - his euphemism for the vindictive plots he hatches to cause trouble for people he dislikes, including many of his colleagues. Robertson also delights in bullying and taking advantage of his mild-mannered friend Clifford Blades, a member of Robertsons masonic lodge whose wife, Bunty, he repeatedly prank calls and asks for phone sex. The only people he shows any genuine warmth to are Mary and her young son, the widowed wife and child of a man whom Robertson tries and fails to resuscitate after he suffers a heart attack in the street.

As the story begins, Robertsons main goal is to gain a promotion to become Detective Inspector, the path to which appears to open when he is assigned to oversee the investigation into the murder of a Japanese exchange student. However, he slowly loses his grip on reality as he works the case and has a series of increasingly vivid hallucinations. It is ultimately revealed through dream-like exchanges with Dr. Rossi, his psychiatrist, that he is on medication for bipolar disorder and has repressed immense feelings of guilt over a childhood accident that led to the death of his younger brother. It also becomes clear that Carole, his wife, has left him and is denying him access to his daughter, Stacey, developments which sparked his desperate bid for promotion, played a part in his unusual displays of kindness toward Mary and her son, and have also led him to start cross-dressing as his wife when off duty in order to "keep her close" to him.

While wandering the streets on such an occasion, Robertson is kidnapped by a street gang led by the thuggish Gorman - who are responsible for the murder - and badly beaten. However, he manages to kill Gorman by throwing him through a window and is found by his colleagues. Robertson not only misses out on the promotion as a result of the events, but is in fact demoted to Constable and is reassigned to uniform, while rookie Ray Lennox is promoted to Detective Inspector. Afterwards, Blades receives a tape of Robertson apologising. Robertson then prepares to commit suicide by hanging himself, but is interrupted at the last moment by Mary and her son knocking at his front door. He then breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience repeating his catchphrase - "Same rules apply" - and laughs as the chair slips from under him.


2. Production

Welshs novel was published in 1998, but over the following years the project was passed between producers and acquired a reputation of being "un-filmable".


3. Reception

Box office

The film earned £250.000 in the box office revenue during its opening weekend in Scotland, reaching number one in the charts. It grossed £842.167 $1.4m in the following weekend, when it went on general release throughout the United Kingdom. The film ultimately ended up grossing $9.1 million worldwide.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 65% approval rating, based on 94 reviews, with an average rating of 6.22/10. The websites critical consensus reads, "Warped, grimy and enthusiastically unpleasant, Filth lives up to its title splendidly." The film also has a score of 56 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 24 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".