By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Extreme sex, booze, drugs, swearing in crooked-cop story.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main character goes on a tragic and terrible journey and doesn't appear to learn very much, if anything at all. On the upside, the movie does indicate that people really can't get away with such horrible behavior for very long.
Positive Role Models
Almost all of the characters are reprehensible in some way. Only Imogen Poots' character has a single moment of empathy and humanity toward the end.
Violence & Scariness
A group of bullies beats up and kills a Japanese tourist. Two men fight, and a man's bloody face is shown. The ghost of a dead child appears from time to time. A man dies while being given CPR. A man is thrown out a window. The main character sees scary hallucinations of people with animal faces and a giant leech monster.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Topless women, naked male bottoms, and images (photocopies) of male genitals. A teen girl starts to perform oral sex on the main character but is interrupted. The supposedly married main character sleeps with several other women, including prostitutes. The main character masturbates in several scenes, once to a porn movie on his TV. A threesome is shown, with a man thrusting from behind, a woman on all fours, and a man in front (his back to the camera). Women are shown in sexy lingerie. Sex clubs are shown.
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Constant strong language includes "f--k," "c--t," "c--k," "c--ksucker," "p---y," "f----t," "ass," "piss," "bastard," "prick," and "spunk," plus regional slang like "bollocks," "shite," and "bum." "Christ" (as an exclamation) is heard, and the middle finger gesture is shown.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and snort cocaine throughout the entire movie. It's strongly suggested that the main character has an abuse problem, though his main issue is more psychological. (He also takes pills for this condition.) A character drugs another character's drink. A character buries his face in a pile of cocaine, and even a pregnant woman is shown smoking a cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Filth is a dark comedy-drama based on a novel by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting). As such, it's highly intense, pushing the envelope of character behavior (much like The Wolf of Wall Street and Dom Hemingway). Sex is a huge issue, since the main character sleeps with many women over the course of the story, masturbates to porn, and has a threesome. Female toplessness and full male nudity are shown. Language is also an issue, with constant use of "f--k," "c--t," and other graphic words. (That said, since the movie takes place in Scotland, many Americans may not be able to understand what's being said.) Characters also drink alcohol, snort cocaine, and smoke cigarettes throughout the movie, and the main character starts to have abuse problems. Some fighting and death are shown as well. Given its origins, this has the makings of a cult movie, but it's definitely not recommended for kids of any age.
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What's the Story?
In Edinburgh, detective sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) looks forward to getting a promotion, knowing he's the best man for the job. His loving wife agrees. Everything seems great until Bruce is assigned to investigate the murder of a Japanese student, and his life starts coming unraveled. He can't seem to stop scheming, such as making obscene phone calls to the wife (Shirley Henderson) of a close friend (Eddie Marsan) and disparaging the manhood of a rookie cop (Jamie Bell). He increases his drinking, drugs, and illicit sex and starts hallucinating. Before long it becomes apparent that nothing in Bruce's world is quite as it seems. Can Bruce come to terms with the source of his pain before it's too late?
Is It Any Good?
Adapted from a novel by Irvine Welsh, FILTH belongs to a subgenre that pushes the limits of character behavior. In The Wolf of Wall Street and Dom Hemingway -- which fall in the same subgenre -- the main characters indulge in debauchery of every kind, which provides vicarious fun for viewers and is certainly great fun for the actors. Here, McAvoy similarly gives it his all, fearless, energetic, and lunatic. (He starts by snatching a child's balloon and firing off two middle finger gestures.)
A colorful roster of somewhat cartoonish supporting characters helps set the mood, ranging from Jim Broadbent's creepy psychiatrist to Henderson's purring housewife. When the movie sticks to this plan, it works, but eventually it comes to a kind of twist that feels like a small betrayal. A main character like this requires total honesty; he needs to reveal everything. Unlike other movies based on Welsh's works (Trainspotting, The Acid House), the world of Filth is too limiting to contain its characters. It needs a bit more style.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the main character's horrible behavior. Is it fun to watch, or is it disturbing? Is the character having fun? Is the actor having fun?
How does Filth compare to The Wolf of Wall Street and Dom Hemingway? Do theses movies encourage or reward characters' bad behavior? What message does that send?
Why does the main character take so many drugs and smoke and drink so much? Does he enjoy these things, or is he using them to deal with problems? How?
How does the movie portray sex? How are the main character's encounters/habits hurtful to himself and others?
- In theaters: May 30, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: August 12, 2014
- Cast: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan
- Director: Jon S. Baird
- Studios: Magnet Releasing, Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, language and some violence
- Last updated: April 17, 2023
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