Filth

 (872)7.11 h 37 min2014R
While working on a murder case, a scheming, manipulative policeman starts coming unhinged, slowly losing his grip on reality and suffering from a series of increasingly severe hallucinations as he desperately tries to hold his life together.
Directors
Jon S. Baird
Starring
James McAvoyImogen PootsJamie Bell
Genres
SuspenseComedyDramaArthouse
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Producers
Jon S. BairdStephen MaoKen MarshallTrudie StylerJens MeurerCeline Rattray
Studio
Magnolia
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Smokingsubstance usealcohol usenudityfoul languagesexual contentviolence
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.0 out of 5 stars

872 global ratings

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  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 6% of reviews have 2 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

D. LarsonReviewed in the United States on January 3, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Bad Lieutenant Goes Trainspotting
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James McAvoy, more fun than Keitel, less fun than Cage. This remake of “Bad Lieutenant” adds some Scots accents and lowlifes, but it’s pretty much the same as the last one with Nic Cage. Who was, frankly, way more fun. McAvoy is grungy as all get-out, looks like he reeks, needs a shave and does a lot of snorting, pill-popping and carrying-on with loose women and erotic strangulation. But does he ever enjoy any of this?

A fixture of drug movies seems to be that nobody enjoys doing the drugs anyway. So why bother? If drinking yourself blind and snorting powder makes you just increasingly more miserable, maybe, I dunno, find religion or go skydiving? Anyway, James McAvoy has just an awful time to start with, and by the almost end, he’s hallucinating his head off. All Bad Lieutenants do that, though.

Keitel, nuns, religious imagery, Catholic guilt. Easy peasey. Cage, reptiles of various descriptions. Pretty funny, especially combined with Cage’s patented hamminess. McAvoy sees pig-monsters and witches, both seemingly from a Christmas pantomime, and they’re not a patch on Nic Cage’s iguanas. They don't even smoke.

A bunch of excellent British faces round out the melodrama, best of them being Jim Broadbent, who enlivens just about any picture he’s in. Jamie Bell, Imogen Poots, Eddie Marsan, John Sessions….you could make a good movie with these people and skip the McAvoy part entirely. Do a workplace black comedy.

As is, there’s an irrelevant murder, a lot of reasonably enjoyable squalid situations and some pleasant hijinx as McAvoy attempts to sabotage his co-workers’ chances of promotion. And all that breath play. All good fun. But then we, and McAvoy, have to do the downward spiral into mental breakdown. Nic Cage did it funnier. Harvey Keitel did it gut-wrenchingly and unpleasantly. McAvoy did it so we’re glancing at our watches and thinking “get on with it, then”. And then suddenly, a full-on Brian DePalma crossdressing bit that, I admit, does come out of nowhere. Cue the lowlifes! The beat-down! The defenestration!

Finally, our man Bruce hits rock bottom, and then there’s a dreadful fifteen minutes of redemption arc that completely abandon the black comedy tone set previously. The director did not know when to say “That’s a wrap, people!” Seriously, the last part belongs in some other movie, because at this point, we do not feel McAvoy’s pain from his childhood trauma, we just think, “We get it, creep, we get it.” Maybe suicide is the answer. A couple of people McAvoy has wronged get improbably righted in clichéd scenes. The auto-asphyxiation (is it still “auto” when you have your partner do it for you?) card is played again. A weird but nicely drawn animated cartoon (a “what th’?” moment tacked on if ever there was) and credits!

“Filth” is short, which is good, competently filmed if you like that slice of life grimy, gritty, slimy and gross sort of realism, the accents are not impenetrably thick. It’s just that this story has been told and this retelling doesn’t add much beyond recreational strangulation (wouldn’t it leave hard-to-explain marks?) and the Worst Psychiatrist in Scotland. If you’ve got an hour and a half to fill on the elliptical, it’s not boring, most of the time. And a trip to Hamburg’s less scenic side is always fun. And the sleaze, Moe, the sleaze! You can't have too much sleaze!
12 people found this helpful
David S. McQueenReviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Scottish Version of "Bad Lieutenant"
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Set in Scotland, present day.

James McAvoy plays Bruce, a Scottish police detective who is up for promotion from Detective-Sergeant to Detective-Inspector. He and his fellow detectives are all vying for the promotion but Bruce has a plan.

The film depects Bruce's machinations regarding his rivals and also shows the dark side of him. There is a murder committed (a Japanese student is beaten to death) and Bruce is given the lead on the case. He actually does very little toward solving the mystery but instead continues to sabotage his fellow detectives' chances for the promotion.

This is a very good film about a man's decent into madness and reminds me of the American film "Bad Lieutenant" (1992) starring Harvey Keitel. This is not really a comedy but more of a sad commentary on addiction, madness and man's self-detructive tendencies. Well acted and directed, the film is well worth your time.
3 people found this helpful
RatboyReviewed in the United States on April 9, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
I hate movies, however..
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As a general rule I dislike movies. In fact I haven't watched one all the way through in years. I rent them on occasion but I find them boring, tedious... I lose interest rather quickly. With that said my current girlfriend recommended I watch this. With little enthusiasm I complied which is a rare thing for me. I settled in with a few cats lying about me on the sofa expecting to be done with yet another movie in 20 minutes. I sat, watching, riveted. For the entire length of the film. It gripped me. Wouldn't let go. The acting is spectacular. The script is amazing. I laughed, I watched in near horror... and then the end. Amazing. Immediately to the top of my very short "favorite films" list. I cannot recommend this enough. If someone who dislikes films as much as I do was as riveted and enthralled with one as I was with this.. well, it has to be good. This is excellent. Watch it. Enjoy... or whatever it is you feel while watching it... perhaps it isn't 'enjoyment' as such... but it is an experience. And that is what art is, at its best: an experience. Not always pleasure but always impact and emotion. This is both, in spades. Most excellent.
11 people found this helpful
tonyatawanaReviewed in the United States on July 11, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Enjoyed it more than Trainspotting
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Let me start by saying that I have seen Trainspotting and thought it was okay. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it. I think Filth is a much better movie. Another disclaimer, I have never read Irvine Welsh so I have no emotional investment in the books that either movie came from.

I watched this movie for one reason, James McAvoy. And, after having watched it, I'm glad I was drawn to it because of him-- it's brilliant. I never really understood the description of Trainspotting as a comedy (I mean, come on, a comedy about heroin addiction!) and after watching it, I thought it was bleak, desperate, and there was not much at all funny about it.

Filth, on the other hand, actually takes a bleak world and horrible circumstances and injects some truly funny moments. Is it a comedy in the true sense of the word? Maybe....depends on if you go with the standard definition (like Shakepeare's Much Ado About Nothing in which much tension and drama occur but ultimately there's one man shunned and a marriage occurs) or if you just define a comedy as a movie that's laugh after laugh at something stupid (take Dumb and Dumber for that example).

McAvoy is amazing and the rest of the cast is excellent as well. The Scottish accent was only an occasional problem but I was still happy to turn on the subtitles.

I don't want to spoil any of the film, but it was a movie that was so though provoking I watched it and when I woke up the next day, I had to rewatch it. I'm still not sure how to feel about he main character, but I really am enjoying the intellectual stimulation provided by the film.
40 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Sex deprivation comedy and the Edinburgh police
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Sex, deprivation, comedy and the police. That’s what Filth is about. It takes place in Edinburgh with James McAvoy a police detective plotting against his peers for a promotion. He’s full of testosterone as a result. He’s completely immoral and therefore perfect. There are some really comedic parts thrown in as well such as when he takes Eddie Marsan on a hedonistic trip to Hamburg. It’s quite a performance by McAvoy. He’s completely manic most of the film. You can see him coming apart at the seams. He comes to personify the title Filth. There’s also some surreal elements added in when he gets really strung out and begins seeing things. It all makes for a great watch.
Robert HayesReviewed in the United States on May 26, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
James McAvoy dominates the screen in this incredible depiction of madness and excess
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Despite some inconsistent tone, FILTH is a darkly comic film about a despicable cop's descent into madness. The story follows Bruce Robertson, a Scottish cop who is up for a promotion, and in charge of a murder investigation. However, those two details are merely springboards for what the movie is really about, that is, his impossibly filthy lifestyle and how he pushes himself to his breaking point. As played by James McAvoy, he is largely unsympathetic although he does have a twisted sense of humor. Other than possibly feeling sorry for him (which is a stretch), the only thing audiences will have to connect with is the promise of being reunited with family, which is what he hopes to achieve with the promotion. However, in the end, even that proves illusory. There is a seriously dark undercurrent to this whole movie, but there is a lot of dark humor to soften what otherwise would be an oppressively dark portrait of a man on the edge. Even still, these are the kind of movies that I love. It's not perfect, due to some jarring attempts at sentimentality, but this is largely a bravura effort with an incredible performance by James McAvoy, and based on a book by the author of TRAINSPOTTING (which tackles similar thematic material). Despite not being for everybody, this is a well-made film that is captivating and deserves to be seen by anybody willing to give it a chance.
13 people found this helpful
UndawntedReviewed in the United States on October 18, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Filth is a Tragic-Comedy about Office Politics, Mental Illness, and the Downward Spiral
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Filth is the story of a Scottish police officer who slips from normality into madness. Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson is out of control when he is sober, but when drugs and alcohol are introduced to an already fragile mind, he loses his grip on reality: totally, completely, fully.

Mental illness is the elephant in the room in Western society. This film shows the descent from barely hanging on to outright unhinged. The movie is a statement piece, and perhaps we should heed its warning.

The humor (is it Scottish humor? because I am checking my Scottish heritage card here) is repulsive at best: sex, drugs... and dance music. The writer is Scottish, we'll give him a break. If you like Blazing Saddles, then a film like Filth will not phase you.

*****

Filth

Scheming Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), a bigoted and corrupt policeman, is in line for a promotion and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Enlisted to solve a brutal murder and threatened by the aspirations of his colleagues, including Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell), Bruce sets about ensuring their ruin, right under the nose of unwitting Chief Inspector Toal. As he turns his colleagues against one another by stealing their wives and exposing their secrets, Bruce starts to lose himself in a web of deceit that he can no longer control. His past is slowly catching up with him, and a missing wife, a crippling drug habit and suspicious colleagues start to take their toll on his sanity. The question is: can he keep his grip on reality long enough to disentangle himself from the filth?

IMDB quote

*****Spoiler Time*****

The Breakdown

Bruce Robertson is a cruel, unapologetic Scottish police officer who treats people as he views the need to treat himself: with disdain, disrespect, and disloyalty. Since childhood, Bruce Robertson has suffered tragedy and guilt. He has bipolar disorder, for which he takes pharmaceutical medication as well as self-medicates with drugs, sex, and alcohol. The audience comes to understand that Bruce is an unfortunate and miserable soul, as he is remorseful over the death of his brother (an accidental death he caused) from childhood, his wife with their daughter has left him for another man, and he dresses up as his wife to feel a connection to his family. He is a man without hope, looking for redemption in a promotion to Detective Inspector.

When he is demoted from Detective Sargent to Constable for having his emotional, mental breakdown in full view of his colleagues, he plans his suicide. A knock on the door happens right as he is about to commit suicide. Does Bruce Robertson die at the end by his own hand, or is he saved by the woman he wishes he was good enough for? I think we all know the answer to that question.
R.I.P. Bruce.

This film has been rated: 7.1/10 Stars on IMDB.

*****

The Review

Bruce Robertson: The games are always, repeat always, being played. But nobody plays the games like me. Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, soon to be Detective Inspector Bruce Robertson. You just have to be the best, and I usually am. Same rules apply.

Although the film is disheveled in places where the pacing of the film is discordant with the plot, the plot itself meanders, its ribald comedic nature and dramatic death spiral, as the audience, we must understand we are seeing the world from Bruce Robertson's point of view. And, Bruce's point of view is unraveling before our eyes. We are descending with him into insanity.

Without an anchor of his wife and daughter, Bruce has no reason to remain stable or good or kind. Bruce has no reason to be stable, good, or kind to himself. He is crying out for help, and yet no one can see the desperate state he is in. A police department trained to see the signs of instability in the public is unprofessional and uncaring when the same characteristics present themselves in one of their own officers.

The games people play... with other people's mental health.

Thank you, James McAvoy, cast and crew, and Irving Welsh for bringing to light the horrible necessity for so many people to shove mental illness under the rug. Yet, hiding mental illness means that the problem goes unresolved. Filth is a tragic-comedy (black comedy) that isn't about depravity, profanity, or obscenity of a rogue police officer. This film is about the indecency of our society that ignores all the warning signs of mental illness and uses its own incompetence to ignore the cries of so many who require mental/emotional help.

The tragedy of this film is one of society's failures.

*****

The Tally

My review will be posted on Prime as well as IMDB.

Prime... 4 out of 5 stars

IMDB... 9 out of 10 stars

Thank you, have a great and wonderful day.
ZemiReviewed in the United States on July 1, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Pleasantly Deceptive
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This film spends the majority of its time as a shallow, unlikable carriage for a fragile ego. In the last 10-15 minutes, however, it suddenly and engagingly reveals that all of its moments from the most vile and callous to the tentatively hopeful were skillfully being woven into a glorious tapestry of a character study. Having watched only to see Eddie Marsan's role and not generally being a McAvoy fan, I was pleasantly surprised that those last few minutes of the movie transformed it from something I had merely sat through to a wonderful piece of entertainment that I'm more than happy to watch again. Slogging through the main character's life, his "filth", is absolutely necessary to achieve the emotional payoff of the film's ending. It is variously amusing and depressing, irritating and hopeful, and cruel and beautiful. If you like McAvoy, mentally engaging films, gratuitous sex, violence, and/or twists that you didn't see coming, then it's most assuredly worth watching.
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