‘Filth’ is immensely funny - unless easily offended

James McAvoy stars in Filth the film 2013
James McAvoy stars in Filth the film 2013

James McAvoy shelves his pretty-boy image and gives a career best performance in Jon S. Baird’s darkly comic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s 1998 cult novel, ‘Filth’.

And filth is exactly what we get. McAvoy stars as Bruce Robertson, a bipolar, racist junkie who also happens to be a detective in Lothian and Borders finest police force.

In a bid to secure promotion, Bruce viciously turns his colleagues against each other by spreading malicious rumours and sleeping with their wives, all while trying to solve the murder of a Japanese student and win back his wife and daughter.

Omittance of the tapeworm aside, writer/director Baird’s adaptation stays true to the spirit and explicit depravity of the novel - which is a return to form for adaptations of Welsh’s work as, since ‘Trainspotting’, they haven’t been anything to write home about.

Credit must go to Baird for his writing and the casting of McAvoy.

Bruce Robertson is a diabolical and disgusting anti-hero, but we still feel sympathy for him as we watch his drug-fuelled descent into madness.

There is no trace of the James McAvoy we all know and love here, he is utterly compelling as the corrupt cop who makes Harvey Keitel look like the Dalai Lama.

An excellent and sympathetic supporting cast only adds to the sordid goings-on.

Jamie Bell as Ray Lennox, Bruce’s young colleague who “loves the ching”; Eddie Marsan as Bladsey, the geeky accountant who feels the full wrath of Bruce’s nature; his housewife, played by the hilarious Shirley Henderson and Amanda Drummond, Bruce’s rival for the promotion who sees Bruce for what he really is, played by Imogen Poots.

Also, the cameo from Starsky and Hutch star David Soul is worth the admission fee alone.

This film is certainly not easy-going movie gratification and at around the hour mark there is a huge tonal shift that takes a lot out of the viewer.

If you are easily offended or if you don’t want your emotions sucked dry, stay at home.

But if you want an immensely funny, ninety minutes of debauchery in our fine capital, then Filth is most certainly for you.

Look out for more TV, DVDs and film reviews in next week’s Guide’.