Posts Tagged ‘drama’

Miss Violence (2013)

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags:

On her eleventh birthday a young girl jumps to her death from the balcony of the small flat she shares with her extended family. In the aftermath the families dark secrets bubble to the surface.

Greek cinema has undergone a real resurgence in recent years, with the excellent “Dogtooth” being joined by such well-received counterparts such as “Attenberg”, “Knifer”, “Wasted Youth”, and “Strella”. It is a country that despite, or perhaps because of, it’s recent troubles, is developing a a film-making movement of increasing confidence, no longer mocking itself with movies such as “Attack of the Giant Moussaka”. Alexander Avranas’ “Miss Violence” sits very squarely in this new, adult approach to cinema, a film that takes itself incredibly seriously and demands it’s audience do the same.
 
Although the film does seem to place a mystery at it’s centre (“what made this girl jump to her death?”) it is fairly obvious where this is all going from very early on; down a difficult and depressing road that most would rather not travel. As the specifics become more apparent, the film becomes ever more uncomfortable to watch, quite an achievement for a film that inspires intense uneasiness from it’s very first second.
 
Set primarily in one tiny, overcrowded apartment, Avranas does a great job of mixing the claustrophobia of the situation with genuine style. Shots are cleverly framed, with point-of-view scenes and recurring motifs; but the direction is never showy or ostentatious, relying on stripped down minimalism as much as camera trickery.
 
While well-made and well-acted, it is an incredibly tough watch; leaving you wondering at times what exactly the point of all this is. A subtext regarding figures of power taking advantage of acquiescent subordinates is a possible justification that gains more power when considering the recent history of film’s country of origin; but despite how well done everything is you can’t help you’ve seen this done before and better, most notably in Vinterberg’s “Festen” and Roth’s “The War Zone”. Of course, that cannot be a criticism in isolation, and taken on it’s own merits “Miss Violence” is undoubtedly effective, extremely troubling and powerfully sobering.
 
Advertisements

Fossil (2014)

Posted: July 3, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Carla Juri spielt die blutjunge französische Freundin des amerikanischen Tunichtguts «Richard», gespielt vom britischen Sschauspieler Grant Masters.

Paul and Camilla (John Sackville and Edith Bukovics) hire a gite in the south of France, seemingly in a last ditch attempt to rekindle a spark long since gone. Tensions build between the two until they find a mysterious couple (Grant Masters and Carla Juri) cavorting in their pool. 

“Fossil” is a British psycho-drama from fledgling production company Blackwall Films, written and directed by first timer Alex Walker. It is a credit to all involved how well executed everything is given the minuscule budget they had to play with.

The performances are strong, albeit in a way that reeks of British television drama from the 1980s. The couple at the film’s centre have the standard RP drama school accents, while the American and French characters are essentially timeless stereotypes, exemplars of British perception of those two races. Masters does pull off a respectable low-key Nicholson impression, something you sense was a great party trick that has now borne fruit; while Carla Juri is clearly a performer with a genuine flighty charm who we will likely be seeing a lot more of based on her promising turn here as the naive but deceptively deep Julie.

The film does have a lovely picturesque look, making good use of it’s Dordogne setting and contrasting it with the claustrophobic confines of the gite the couples are staying in. The intent was likely to blend the feel of French New-Wave cinema with traditional buttoned-down British drama, a combination that shouldn’t really work, but ultimately scrapes by due to the commitment of those involved.

For all the positives, it is incredibly hard to get away from how “middle-class” everything feels, essentially just the “first world problems” meme writ large. It is all so twee and quaint, you imagine it being cooked up over a glass of fine wine on a family holiday, such is it’s lack of edge.

As the film is primarily a drama, it is perhaps churlish to say that it takes a while to get going, as the long build-up is precisely the point. While the characters are believable, the dialogue between them lacks bite, something that makes it hard to care too much about their fates. While not every four-hander can be “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, the interplay between the quartet really could have done with something to make it crackle.

The film is likely to be best remembered for a final third twist that is somewhat surprising, not for the explosion of violence that the film always threatened, but for the way in which it serves perfectly as an antidote to the majority of “home invasion” thrillers; a change of direction that is a pleasant surprise. However, it is all too neat and tidy in execution, squared away far too quickly and easily with scant regard for the possibilities the premise holds. For a film so rooted in relationships, it glosses over the shift in dynamic in surprisingly off-hand fashion, seeming to lose it’s focus as it attempts to quickly wrap everything up and stick a bow on it.

“Fossil” is a laudable attempt at a different kind of thriller, professionally executed in a manner that belies it’s incredibly tight budget. It is still relatively dull at times, lacking the zest and bite possessed by the best films of it’s ilk. While it may come a pleasant surprise if caught by accident late night on television, it is sadly not interesting enough to recommend actively seeking out.

Image

Henry (Robin Williams) is mistakenly told by his doctor (Mila Kunis) that he has 90 minutes left to live and sets about putting right the wrongs of his immediate past.

“The Angriest Man In Brooklyn” is a comedy-drama from “Field of Dreams” director Phil Aiden Robinson, based on the Israeli film “Mar Baum” (known in English as “The 92 Minutes of Mr Baum”).

The supporting cast is the real treat here, most notably the incredible Peter Dinklage in a fairly major supporting role as Henry’s brother. Dinklage has an innate understanding of delivery and timing, imbuing his underwritten character with an immense likability while teasing laughs out of the slight material. James Earl Jones also has an absolutely hilarious cameo as a electronics salesman, providing the film’s one true laugh out loud moment, and it is genuine pleasure to see him back in front of the camera, however briefly. The ever reliable supporting player Bob Dishy gets the opportunity to react wonderfully to a few lines without being given any of his own and Louis CK is fun but absolutely wasted in a one scene cameo. The only problem with the presence of these sterling performers is that we see too little of them.

In contrast, it is a tragedy, given the talent floating around the rest of this movie, that we end up spending so much time with Williams and Kunis, both badly miscast and horribly uninteresting. Williams may occasionally be an electrifying performer (and much of his dramatic work has shown a surprising depth to his abilities), but it is impossible to feel sympathy for his loud-mouthed creation, oscillating between off-putting over-acting and moments of stillness that merely draw undue attention to how weird and stretched his face looks nowadays. He is clearly supposed to be an angry Brooklyn archetype, a caricature he only occasionally remembers to play up to before reverting back to his standard persona in a performance as inconsistent as it is unconvincing.

Kunis here is a strange blank void (although she is capable of more, as demonstrated by her excellent turn in Aronofsky’s “Black Swan”) and it is hard to believe her as a stressed-out junkie junior doctor. This is partly because no matter how intense the situation she is always pristine, an immaculate porcelain doll, and partly because of the vapid look she has every time she has to deliver any sort of medical dialogue (when she asks “Do you know what a brain aneurism is?” with a weirdly blank expression on her face, it is almost impossible not to shout “Yes, but you clearly don’t” at the screen).

This almost feels like it was conceived as an warm-hearted PG-13 antidote to Bobcat Goldthwait’s similarly themed and under-appreciated “God Bless America”. But where the dialogue in that film was razor sharp and pierced the soul of our society while being intelligent enough to skewer it’s own hypocrisy, here the rants are trite cliche, banal mundanities littered with profanity masquerading as wit. Robin Williams saying the C-word with his buttcrack hanging out isn’t comedy, no matter how much the makers wish it were that easy.

A great deal of the dialogue is delivered in voice-over form by Williams and Kunis, with both sounding bored to death by the words coming from their mouths, half asleep and waiting to be jolted awake by a courier arriving with their paycheques. It is amazing that a film so short (clocking in at 83 minutes in total) can run out of steam so astonishingly early, as if the writers couldn’t think of any more for these characters to do. The runtime is gracelessly padded out by flashbacks that crudely spell out the plot points you need to look out for: “I wanted you to be a lawyer not a dancer, dammit…this will be important later…MORE SHOUTING”.

The lack of subtlety carries over into the music, which wouldn’t feel out of place in the soundtrack to a worthy “Lifetime” drama from the late 90s. Tiresomely jaunty, whimsical melodies let you know which scenes are supposed to be “comedic” before composer Mateo Messina starts clubbing you about the head with ham-fisted mawkishness during “emotional moments”, clearly, and perhaps rightly, not trusting in the material to do the job on it’s own.

The film does do a good job of capturing the diversity and bustle of the Brooklyn streets on occasion, although rarely when the main characters are in shot. This leaves you with the impression that whoever was in charge of the second unit cared a great deal more about the quality of their work than director Robinson did, particularly during the scenes where truly terrible green screen takes over from location shooting, completely undoing the drama of pivotal moments.

Ultimately “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn” has nothing to say, a film with no purpose. It fails comedically and dramatically by not committing to anything it does; ill-conceived, half-baked and thrown together with no care. If you are fond of Peter Dinklage and have a great deal of patience then you may get a kick from his work in the movie, but anyone else would do well to avoid this whole acrid misadventure.

the dirties (2013)

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Image

Two best friends are making a film for their high school media class; a dark comedy that sees them taking brutal revenge on a group of school bullies they dub the Dirties. When their film is rejected for being too violent, one of them jokingly suggests doing it all for real…

First time director Matt Johnson’s unique take on the school shooting genre is an incredibly assured debut from a real new talent. Presented documentary-style, the fly on the wall conceit takes us into the lives of these characters, letting us get to know them as people, subtly exploring their mindsets and focussing almost entirely on the journey to the inevitable conclusion rather than the event itself.

Johnson also takes the lead in this film, and is an electrifying presence as he straddles the line between charming sociopath and deluded, hyperactive child. At times incredibly annoying in his childishness, it is a testament to his performance than you end up not only sympathising with him, but feeling actual empathy. He is no monster, just a confused kid lashing out, someone who has lost sight of the borders between healthy fantasy and reality. It is all too easy to see how he got there, and still be charmed by him. Owen Williams gives a more naturalistic performance as his best friend, cowed by life as well as his showy, exuberant buddy, and is equally as effective, the emotional heart of the film without ever succumbing to trite pathos.

The interplay between the two is believably light and frothy, and we see all their silly plans and personal in-jokes. In another film film their behaviour would be the basis for broad comedy as they get up to typical misguided teen shenanigans, but here it is often difficult to laugh knowing where the film is going; serving as a melancholy reminder of the humanity of the characters. These are not the cold, troubled teens that the media tells us of, but laughing, joking buddies whose single-minded nerdiness has alienated them from their peers during that awkward period when children lie on the cusp of adulthood.

The documentary style is not the most dynamic way of telling a story, with “found footage” increasingly synonymous with low-quality and lazy film-making, but it becomes increasingly necessary as the film unfolds, perfectly playing into the theme of distancing yourself from reality. As the movie goes on the possibility begins to hang in the air that you are not watching a faux-documentary, but a fantasy, the characters seeing themselves through a non-existent lens, life feeling no more real to them than the plots of the films they devour. This ambiguity, the questioning of what is “reality”, takes it to another level, the film increasingly becoming a study of mental illness rather than a salacious reinterpretation of the similar terrible events that periodically dominate the news.

“The Dirties” may well draw comparisons with the similarly themed “Elephant”, but where that was a cold, heartless journey towards a final act, this is a warm film about how characters got to where they are. The somewhat abrupt conclusion sums up the differences between the two; rather than making hay from the brutality like Van Sant’s film, this culminates with a personal moment between the two leads, telling us everything about where they are as characters at that moment. While it does have many of the flaws that bedevil “found footage” films, Johnson has crafted a brave and intelligent film does well to rise above it’s low-budget limitations. It is a credit to the makers that this is as enjoyable a watch as it ultimately ends up being, while it is encouraging to find a movie from first time film-makers that tackles a controversial topic not with the intent of assigning blame or generating shock, but of promoting understanding and provoking thought.

in a world (2013)

Posted: March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Image

Carol is a struggling vocal coach living in the shadow of her successful voiceover artist father. When the chance to be the voice of an upcoming blockbuster trailer arises she must see off the challenge of his protege, the hot new set of vocal chords on the scene, Gustav Warner.

“In a World” is a comedy drama that marks the writing and directing debut of Lake Bell, an actress perhaps best known for scene-stealing supporting roles in big Hollywood movies such as “No Strings Attached” and television series like “Boston Legal” and “Children’s Hospital”. Tailoring the film to display all of the talents she has too rarely been given the chance to show, she is remarkable. A quirky, slightly skittish leading lady, she is a genuinely charming presence with adroit comedic timing both verbally and physically. Given the subject matter, her vocal skill was always going to be key to her believability in the role and she delivers in spades, with an array of perfectly performed accents and a powerful way with a voiceover.

Alongside her, left-field stand-up comedian Demetri Martin is lovable and bumbling as the love-lorn Louis, a perfect foil for Bell’s nervous energy, while Ken Marino is expertly sleazy as Carol’s nemesis Gustav. The use of comedic actors playing it relatively straight gives the cast an immense likability, especially at the more dramatic points. Exemplifying this are Rob Cordry and Michaela Watkins, who really make you care about their marital difficulties in a key subplot. They expertly convey the dynamic of a couple who have become too comfortable and complacent in their relationship, while always keeping it light and watchable no matter how dark it seems to get.

Bell’s naturalistic direction gives everything space, the contemplative pace bringing a mood of authenticity to the often absurd proceedings. Big comedy slides by, skilfully underplayed and then gone; like real life moments that just happen to be funny. Even when the film plays up the ridiculousness, like a late montage of the main players on audition day, there is always a notable subtlety and sincerity on display.

The banter between the characters is also beautifully done, backstories becoming apparent from the interactions and genuine wit effortlessly emerging from the interplay, never forced or trite. These feel like normal people; friends messing around with each other, couples who love each other, families with fraught relationships bubbling beneath the surface.

In many ways this would have made perfect Hollywood big dumb comedy fodder. It has the unusual but recognisable backdrop, the clearly defined ultimate goal, the deftly constructed comic scenarios and the well written one-liners. But Bell has done this her own way, telling her story at her own pace and leaving the hard edges un-smoothed. There is a message of empowerment at it’s heart, but it is never hammered home and it does not overshadow the rest of the film. In this world characters are imperfect while victories are bittersweet and the film is all the better for it.

“In a World” is a genuinely sweet and laugh-out-loud funny film, a feel-good marshmallow brave enough to have a melancholy centre.

Image

Jon is a modern day lothario, hopping clubs and bedding women with such startling frequency that his friends have nicknamed him “Don Jon”. However, this string of meaningless sexual encounters leaves him emotionally malnourished, a vacuum he fills with copious amounts of internet porn.

“Don Jon” is the incredibly assured writing and directing debut of it’s leading man, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. An astute parable for our time, the film casts a probing gaze over an era where true human connection has been lost as people become ever more dependent on outside stimuli to fulfil emotional needs.

While his main character is essentially addicted to pornography, that is not the sole target, if it is a target at all. Sports, smart phones and romance movies are other characters equally damaging means of escape, replacing genuine human contact and creating unrealistic expectations that reality can never live up to.

Holding a mirror up to the way society and the media enforce gender stereotypes, we see male characters fed a diet of macho sports and bikini clad “10s”, while Hollywood sells women images of idealised masculinity; men who are worshipping, providing and servile. A children’s party hammers the message home, full of over-excited little girls dressed as princesses, while the sole boy, a young baby not yet old enough to walk, has already been tacitly handed his role in life, forced into a pair of workmanlike denim dungarees.

The film is full of recurring motifs, establishing a stylish cinematic shorthand for Jon’s regimented lifestyle, repeatedly used and then undercut to great comedic and dramatic effect. Initially, the movie has a slick feel; quick cuts interspersed with long flowing scenes, recalling the style of a hollywood rom-com, particularly in one long take that leads to a romantic kiss outside a cinema.

Late on, the film subtly adopts the trappings of an indie drama, with more measured, naturalistic scenes, handheld shaky-cam and the replacement of the early bold colour palette with more muted, earthy tones, reflecting the more emotional timbre.

If there is a criticism, it is that the movie does seem to lose steam because of these choices. Although the later scenes are very well done and thematically necessary, the earlier sections are so much fun that, when the film does take it’s inevitable dramatic turn, it is in some ways disappointing by comparison.

A character study like this lives or dies by it’s lead performance, and Gordon-Levitt completes his cinematic chimera with an excellent turn. Playing completely against type as a buffed up Jersey Shore cartoon, he not only nails it on a superficial level but also gives his character a surprising depth and likability, strongly reminiscent of Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”.

The supporting cast are given less to work with, but do well with their one-note characters. Tony Danza and Glenne Headly have nice cameos as Jon’s parents, with Danza particularly fun as a sports-crazy caricature of masculinity, unable to let the television remote out of his grasp. Scarlett Johanson is well cast as the girl who seems to capture Jon’s heart, while the excellent Julianne Moore expertly fills out her underwritten, yet pivotal, role.

While it does have minor flaws, “Don Jon” is clever, confidently executed, well-acted and funny. Gordon-Levitt has crafted a small, personal tale with real heart, genuine style and an interesting message; a mature film that belies his novice status as writer and director.

american hustle (2013)

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Image

When two con-artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) are caught by an ambitious FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), they find that the only way to stay out of prison is to use their unique skills to help him make four arrests in a week.

The latest film from “Silver Linings Playbook” director David O Russell, “American Hustle” is a comedy thriller loosely based on a genuine FBI sting operation from the late 70s. Much humour is mined from the period setting and easy targets like comb-overs and man-perms are mercilessly lampooned, while the introduction of the new-fangled microwave is a hilarious highlight (“I told you not to put metal into the science oven!”).

The meandering style is a throwback to the auteurs who grew out of 1970′s cinema, with the work of Scorsese a clearly recognisable influence, from the voice-overs to the gliding camerawork. There is also a 70s style deference to the actors, as if Russell truly fell in love with his cast and the characters they created.

If Russell is aping Scorsese here, Bale is De Niro, his Irving Rosenfeld a fat Jewish schlub with irrepressible charm and charisma. It is another great performance from Bale, channeling the very essence of De Niro himself from behind his method weight gain and elaborate comb-over. You are often left with the feeling that if Bobby in his late 70s/early 80s pomp had been cast in the role, this is exactly how he would have played it, from every hand gesture and line delivery to the constant, subconsciously extravagant, repositioning of his oversized glasses.

As his partner in crime Amy Adams is stunning, pure electric sexuality; legs and breasts falling out of her flimsy dresses, leaving battered hearts and unfulfilled erections trailing in her wake. Bradley Cooper is also excellent as the FBI agent Richie Dimaso, playing the role like a coked up version of 1970s character actor Tony Roberts, superficially charming but overtly arrogant and ruled by hubris; every “no” just making him desire more and more, like icarus flying ever closer to the sun.

The supporting cast is also exceptional. Jeremy Renner is goofily charming but also undeniably charismatic as the straight-forward dupe at the centre of the scheme, Carmine Polito, a man whose desire to do what’s right for his community leaves him vulnerable. Comedian Louis CK has a fine cameo as Dimaso’s FBI boss, a sensible pencil pusher steamrolled by momentum of the operation. The interplay between him and Cooper is a real highlight of the film as the two bounce off each other with natural comedic timing. From this dynamic comes one of the films standout running gags, a delicious undercutting of the “superior with a parable” cliche that hits the mark superbly. Not to be outdone, Alessandro Nivola, as the prosecutor trying to make a name for himself, delivers a pitch perfect Christopher Walken impression, a guilty treat of a performance that shouldn’t work but perfectly matches the tone of the film.

With all this talent bringing their a-game it would be easy for an actor to get lost in the shuffle, which makes it all the more impressive when Jennifer Lawrence steps onto the screen and absolutely steals every scene she is in. She is able to seem like the sexiest girl in any room as well as the most repellant, the dumbest and the smartest; all at the same time. Her character could so easily be detestable, seemingly written as the basest of cinematic caricatures, a manipulative shrew existing purely as an obstacle for the love-lorn leads to overcome. Lawrence has taken this basic template and given her such depth, charm and brassy humour that it is impossible to hate her, no matter what she does. She owns the screen for every second she is in shot and the film misses her energy when she is absent, which is sadly all too often.

As the film is so driven by performance, it is easy to overlook that it is very slight. The story here is incredibly slender and essentially just “happens”, with the leads along for the ride, only taking control when it matters. The major plot-points on which the film hinges are also very simplistic for a “con” movie, especially as modern audiences have been conditioned to expect elaborate twists that require a second viewing to fully appreciate. Worst of all, certain elements that seem important for periods of the movie are tritely tied up by a throwaway line or two in the final coda, undermining their importance completely. Although in many ways it is refreshing to find a film so far removed from the over-plotted “twist-a-thons” that have become the norm for this genre, many will likely end up feeling under-whelmed by the low-key approach.

“American Hustle” is a charming, superbly acted caper movie; an incredibly fun and achingly cool homage to a style of cinema that we see too little of nowadays. It is also uproariously funny, with a welcome indie ethos that places character above spectacle. However, when the final credits roll you are left with the feeling that there was very little substance to go with it’s undeniable style, a small flaw in what is otherwise a real gem.

trance (2013)

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Image

Simon (James McAvoy) is an auctioneer, who, during the sale of a priceless painting, is caught up in a carefully planned robbery perpetrated by Franck (Vincent Cassel). During the course of the raid Simon suffers a head injury and loses his memory, but not before he has hidden the artwork the robbers are targeting. Frustrated, and with no other option, Franck forces Simon to see a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) who must break through the barriers in Simon’s mind to discover the whereabouts of the valuable item.

An adaptation of a UK mini-series of the same name, “Trance”, as befits a film about a fractured memory, is intentionally jumbled and, at times, hard to follow. The line between dream and reality is blurred as the film nudges you toward the truth rather than presenting you with a linear narrative. As a stylistic choice this works for much of the film and is it’s real strength; you really do find yourself being drawn in trying to unravel the puzzle, which stretches far beyond the macguffin of the missing painting.

It is easy to see what drew Danny Boyle to this project, as the labyrinthine set-up enables him to play with multiple genres. Style-wise, “Trance” is pitched somewhere between “Drive” and “Inception”, but where those films felt fresh, “Trance” feels lazy and dated. It is too clean and too choreographed; a mere pastiche of what others have done far better. The old hat vibe is heightened by a soundtrack that seemingly tries to ape the hip retro sound of Winding Refn’s 2011 neo-noir, but is generic and distracting rather than unique and mood enhancing.

The screenplay by John Hodge (working from the original television script by Joe Ahearne) shows exactly why Boyle hasn’t worked with him in over a decade. The majority of the dialogue is as subtle as a brick to the face and just as lacking in wit (the funniest moment in the film is Vincent Cassel’s exasperated single word answer to one of the stupidest questions in cinema history). Most lines were seemingly written with the sole intention of appearing in the trailer, and you are treated to a barrage of on-the-nose cod-philosophising like: “I must remember never to forget…that you are a criminal”, and “To be yourself you have to constantly remember yourself”. Worst of all for a film so reliant on the unravelling of it’s mysteries; the plotting is incredibly contrived and as the layers are peeled away it feels that the twists are there for their own sake, more about servicing some adolescent idea of what’s “cool” than creating an interesting story.

The performances by the strong cast are generally good, although they aren’t helped by the banal dialogue and characters who are essentially little more than cyphers acting in certain ways to propel the twisting plot and wrong-foot the audience.

“Trance” is a film that tries to be subtle, clever and deep but is really just broad, dumb and takes itself too seriously. The mystery at the film’s centre is arresting and enough to keep you interested to the end, but given all the talent involved and what they are capable of, it is hard not to feel disappointed.

filth (2013)

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Image

When a Japanese student is murdered in Edinburgh, promotion-seeking but troubled detective Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is given the lead in the case.

Although this sounds like the set-up for yet another gritty urban police procedural, that could not be further from the truth. The story here is very much secondary, and the lead character pays even less attention to his investigation than the film does. Instead, this is a character study, a window into the life of the self destructive, bigoted and hedonistic Robertson. While many would have treated this with some seriousness, writer/director Jon S. Baird (working from a novel by the legendary scottish chronicler of debauchery Irvine Welsh) has crafted an irreverent and demented pitch black comedy, mining laughs from the degradation and depravity on show.

As befits a film derived from one of Welsh’s first person narratives, the action is very much viewed through Robertson’s eyes, his “rules” being the only ones that apply as he repeatedly breaks the fourth wall to wink knowingly at the viewer. The film is blessed with Welsh’s way with words and the dialogue is crisp and funny, while maintaining the earthiness of the original prose, but this is not a film that stands in awe of it’s source material. Baird has remembered that in the visual medium of film it is best to show, not tell, and the film is a deranged visual treat. Character introductions are interspersed with cutaway visualisations of Robertson’s thoughts and our unreliable narrator’s hallucinations are presented as matters of fact, as disorienting for the viewer as they are for Robertson himself.

McAvoy is simply outstanding in the lead role, playing against type as a repulsive boil on the behind of society. It is a testament to his performance that he can convey the charisma of the man, necessary for so much of the film to make sense, while never letting you lose sight of how truly repugnant he is; a damaged sociopath hiding behind drooping eyelids and a slimy smile. <any of the best scenes come when Robertson is completely in control, playing his “games” and manipulating others to his whims, yet McAvoy is able to turn his performance on a pin, going from raging at a colleague to suddenly showing an immense vulnerability when confronted with a grieving widow. He flips from from magnetic to repellent, from irredeemable to pitiable, all the while maintaining a likability that makes you not just care, but actually root for this despicable character. McAvoy stretched himself here and found that he was made of elastic, able to contort into any shape required for the film to work.

The supporting cast is equally strong, and it is hard to find a weak link. Eddie Marsan is an absolute delight as a put-upon “friend”, possibly the last person who genuinely cares about Robertson, rewarded with the systematic destruction of his life. Jim Broadbent is also outstanding in a small role as Robertson’s psychiatrist and the personification of his illness, clearly having a whale of a time revelling in an outrageously over the top performance.

“Filth” is incredibly sure-handed; funny and outrageous while still being grounded in reality; touching and sad without ever being mawkish. The end product is a well performed, superbly crafted film, swimming with sharp yet crude dialogue, all the better for being as completely unapologetic about it’s excesses as it’s main character.