Filth is the story of a Scottish police officer who slips from normality into madness. Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson is out of control when he is sober, but when drugs and alcohol are introduced to an already fragile mind, he loses his grip on reality: totally, completely, fully.
Mental illness is the elephant in the room in Western society. This film shows the descent from barely hanging on to outright unhinged. The movie is a statement piece, and perhaps we should heed its warning.
The humor (is it Scottish humor? because I am checking my Scottish heritage card here) is repulsive at best: sex, drugs... and dance music. The writer is Scottish, we'll give him a break. If you like Blazing Saddles, then a film like Filth will not phase you.
Bruce Robertson, played by James McAvoy, is a cruel, unapologetic Scottish police officer who treats people as he
views the need to treat himself: with disdain, disrespect, and disloyalty. Since childhood, Bruce Robertson has
suffered tragedy and guilt. He has bipolar disorder, for which he takes
pharmaceutical medication as well as self-medicates with drugs, sex, and
alcohol. The audience comes to understand that Bruce is an unfortunate
and miserable soul, as he is remorseful over the death of his brother
(an accidental death he caused) from childhood, his wife with their
daughter has left him for another man, and he dresses up as his wife to
feel a connection to his family. He is a man without hope, looking for redemption in a promotion to Detective Inspector.
When he is demoted from Detective Sargent to Constable for having his emotional, mental breakdown in full view of his colleagues, he plans his suicide. A knock on the door happens right as he is about to commit suicide. Does Bruce Robertson die at the end by his own hand, or is he saved by the woman he wishes he was good enough for? I think we all know the answer to that question.R.I.P. Bruce.
This film has been rated: 7.1/10 Stars on IMDB.
Without an anchor of his wife and daughter, Bruce has no reason to remain stable or good or kind. Bruce has no reason to be stable, good, or kind to himself. He is crying out for help, and yet no one can see the desperate state he is in. A police department trained to see the signs of instability in the public is unprofessional and uncaring when the same characteristics present themselves in one of their own officers.
The games people play... with other people's mental health.
Thank you, James McAvoy, cast and crew, and Irving Welsh for bringing to light the horrible necessity [reality] for so many people to shove mental illness under the rug. Yet, hiding mental illness means that the problem goes unresolved. Filth is a tragic-comedy (black comedy) that isn't about depravity, profanity, or obscenity of a rogue police officer. This film is about the indecency of our society that ignores all the warning signs of mental illness and uses its own incompetence to ignore the cries of so many who require mental/emotional help.
The tragedy of this film is one of society's failures.
Watched free on Prime Video.
My review will be posted on Prime as well as IMDB.
The Writer's Workshop
Movies for Writers: Filth is an opportunity to discuss and educate about mental illness.
Have a great and wonderful day.