It’s party time again at author Irvine Trainspotting Welsh’s. Come dressed as the sick soul of Scotland. Filth, from Welsh’s 2008 novel, is about a policeman with issues (James McAvoy). The placing of those brackets is intended, since McAvoy plays the issues rather than the policeman. What else can he do? Detective Bruce Robertson is nothing but issues. Self-disgust; cynicism; drug addiction; corrupt copping; crypto-gayness; banging friends’ wives. He’s a matchstick man in which every match, some incendiary, is a vice or a destructive compulsion.
If Trainspotting (1996) was a feral, fresh-seeming bacchanal of bad faith – in everything macro-Scottish or micro-British – Filth is the same rave-up held 17 years later. Everyone is older, crabbier. Drama has been mugged by melodrama. Posturing nihilism powers on, fatuously fantasticated whenever the realist impulse, feeble at best, flickers out altogether. Jim Broadbent, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, David Soul submit to director Ron S. Baird’s hallucinatory-expressionistic routines, which are OTT even by Terry Gilliam standards; though the Stanley Kubrick estate might perk up at the possibility of droit moral lawsuits as the classical music keeps striking up over the baroquely choreographed scenes of Clockwork Orange-ish thug action.