Bleak and black or unashamedly good fun – you decide
James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Imogen Poots, Eddie Marsan, Shirley Henderson, John Sessions, Emun Elliott, Gary Lewis, Brian McCardie, Joanne Froggatt, Jim Broadbent, Kate Dickie. Director: Jon S Baird.
Everyone is above the law, not least the police, in Jon S Baird's giddy and grim black comedy adapted from Irvine Welsh's 1998 novel of the same name.
Infused with directorial brio and no-holds-barred performances from an excellent ensemble cast, Filth mixes a heady cocktail of sex, drugs and wanton violence, then spikes the noxious brew with a generous dash of racism and homophobia.
Those of a nervous disposition will be fortunate to survive the opening five minutes unscathed as Baird paints a wickedly funny portrait of Edinburgh's police force as a boy's club of degenerates and scoundrels, who commit adultery and gleefully sabotage a colleague's chances of promotion. Not since Danny Boyle's breathless screen version of Trainspotting more than 25 years ago has a film realised Welsh's distinctive voice with such flair.
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By necessity, some of the book's devices, including a tapeworm, have been sacrificed to construct a narrative thread that we can cling to through the madness and debauchery. But the author's twisted humour defiantly sticks up two fingers in almost every frame.
Glasgow's golden boy, James McAvoy, takes the sheen off his nice-guy screen image as misanthropic schemer Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, who lords over his colleagues and shamelessly sucks up to his superior, Chief Inspector Bob Toal (John Sessions). When Toal dangles a promotion in front of Bruce, the detective sergeant ruthlessly targets his five rivals – Peter Inglis (Emun Elliott), Amanda Drummond (Imogen Poots), Dougie Gillman (Brian McCardie), Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell) and Gus Bain (Gary Lewis) – by exploiting their insecurities. So Bruce scrawls graffiti on the station's toilet wall questioning Peter's sexuality, teases Ray about the size of his manhood and sleeps with Dougie's beloved wife Chrissie (Kate Dickie).
Unfortunately, Bruce's mental state is precarious and when his plans suffer a setback, his world whirls out of control. The only glimmer of hope is a young widow, Mary (Joanne Froggatt), whose innate kindness might not be enough to drag Bruce back from the abyss.
Filth is anchored by an all-guns-blazing central turn from McAvoy, who has gained a few pounds for the role and looks sweaty and exhausted by the gloomy closing frames. He drops his kecks for almost every female co-star then suffers nightmarish visions involving a psychiatrist Dr Rossi (Jim Broadbent) with a freakishly large forehead.
Supporting performances are equally colourful, including Henderson in breathlessly vampish form, plus Starsky & Hutch star David Soul who enjoys a hallucinogenic cameo, leading a boozy sing-along to his song Silver Lady.
Baird makes light work of the trim running time, delivering a sledgehammer to the guts with a resolution that almost makes us feel sorry for Bruce, despite his heinous, self-serving actions.
Try and resist the relentless joy of this flick
Musical/Drama/Comedy/Romance. George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie, Freya Mavor, Antonia Thomas, Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, Jason Flemyng, Emma Hartley-Miller, Paul Brannigan, Daniela Nardini. Director: Dexter Fletcher.
I'm not sure I would walk 500 miles and then sadistically walk the same distance again to prove my worth as a man.
Identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid, aka The Proclaimers, begged to differ in their infectious 1988 song I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), which has become an anthem for Scotland's national football team.
Playwright Stephen Greenhorn drew inspiration from these lyrics, and the entire Proclaimers songbook, for his critically acclaimed 2007 stage musical Sunshine On Leith, charting the romantic dalliances of two friends who return home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Actor turned director Dexter Fletcher harks back to his early role as Baby Face in Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone to harness the exuberance of the stage show on the big screen.
This is an unabashedly feel-good romp through matters of the heart that underscores its soap opera narrative with slickly executed song and dance sequences. Admittedly, the set-ups are as hopelessly contrived as Mamma Mia! One character decides to leave Edinburgh to pursue their career in Florida to make sense of the lyric "Take a look up the railtrack/From Miami to Canada" in Letter From America, and a mother figure is named Jean so her husband can serenade her with Oh Jean.
But Fletcher's film is most powerful when it defies expectation. The title track resonates deeply as a hospital bedside lament, sung over the body of a gravely ill spouse, and when squaddies sing Sky Takes the Soul in the confines of a tank, the omens of impending doom are unmistakable.
Davy (George MacKay) and best mate Ally (Kevin Guthrie) return home to Leith after a roadside explosive kills one of their band of brothers. Ally falls into the arms of his girlfriend Yvonne (Freya Mavor), who is Davy's sister, while Davy kindles romance with Yvonne's best friend, Liz (Antonia Thomas).
Both relationships blossom and Ally buys a ring, intending to go down on bended knee at the forthcoming 25th anniversary party of Davy's parents, Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks). But a dark secret from the past threatens to tear the family apart, propelling the characters along divergent paths.
Sunshine On Leith is shamelessly sentimental, tugging heartstrings with abandon, but the joyfulness gradually wears us down until we're powerless to resist. MacKay, Guthrie, Thomas and Mavor sing their parts with conviction and charm, while Mullan and Horrocks lend emotional gravitas as a long-time married couple in emotional crisis. Musical sequences are delivered with gusto including a beer-soaked rendition of Let's Get Married in a bar, which is countered by Hate My Love as young dreams turn sour.