AS ONE WOULD EXPECT—nay, demand—from a film based on a book by Irvine Welsh, Filth is completely, horrendously, gleefully sordid. By my count, every type of fluid in the human body gets some screen time, and the other bastions of depravity (drugs, erotic asphyxiation, naughty language) are also well represented. I say that upfront because if you're going to enjoy Filth, and you may, it will mean preparing yourself for an apocalyptic wallow in the taboo.
Detective Sergeant Bruce (James McAvoy) would like to become Detective Inspector Bruce, and sets about ruthlessly manipulating his fellow Edinburgh detectives who might also be eligible for the promotion. (A lot of this consists of drilling away at their sexual insecurities while under a multifaceted array of intoxicants.) Filth follows the formula of “Bad Cop/There Are No Other Kinds of Cops” seen in Bad Lieutenant and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call—New Orleans, but injects it with a manic, pitch-dark sense of humor and a sexy Eurotrash eye for style. McAvoy is swinging for the fences with this one, and his wild-eyed, vomit-splattered performance ranks up there with Cage and Keitel. He’s not the hero Scotland needs or deserves, but he is really fucking fun to watch.