If nothing else, “Filth” offers a very different side of James McAvoy than the one for which he’s best known: the young Charles Xavier in “X-Men.”
McAvoy’s character in “Filth,” a dense and hyper adaptation of a novel by “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh, is the polar opposite of the kindly, professorial Xavier. His Scottish Det. Sgt. Bruce Robertson is a drug-abusing rageaholic prone to hallucinations.
The movie, written and directed by Jon S. Baird, forgoes any semblance of a plot and dives full-on into Robertson’s nightmarish psyche, which has been damaged to such an extent that there’s no form of grotesque misbehavior off limits.
It’s flat-out bonkers, aspiring to the sort of shock hallucinatory eff- ects successfully achieved by, say, Terry Gilliam in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The movie wants to show you the breakdown of a broken, hateful and self-hating man, set against a contemporary landscape rife with vices.
“Filth” gets so worked up trying to shock you, to put McAvoy and his accomplished co-stars (Eddie Marsan, among others) through the nasty paces, that it lands with a thud. The star is too inherently sympathetic to really get this lout, the movie is thickly accented to the point of near-incomprehension and the larger points about the unchecked masculine id are squelched by the avalanche of, well, filth.