Opening 17 Oct 2013
Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is proud to be Scottish, “such a uniquely successful race”; married to “the ultimate tease” (Shauna Macdonald), his police colleagues envy him. Undeservedly, considering Bruce is a corrupt, oversexed, bigoted, cokehead. Under the pretext of concern for his family’s welfare, his energy is focused on getting the Detective Inspector promotion. Figuring the odds of each co-worker’s chance at the job, he then scurrilously sets about to destroy them, one by one. Chief Inspector Toal (John Sessions), as clueless of Bruce as his subordinates or his partner Ray (Jamie Bell) are, puts Bruce in charge of a brutal, racially charged homicide that demands a quick closure. As he leads the team, at every opportunity Bruce manipulates facts, plants lies among themselves, and screws a colleague’s wife. His doctor (Jim Broadbent) is duped as well.
Then Bruce gets the additional responsibility to find whoever is behind harassing phone calls to the wife (Shirley Henderson) of a generous Police Lodge supporter (Eddie Marsan). Bruce’s slippery-slope teeters more precariously, his hallucinations intensify. But a chance action, that of coming to someone’s aid and her return kindnesses, set Bruce’s emotions in conflict. Can this course be altered? Is his sanity capable of salvaging this self-induced filth? Echoing Bruce’s bipolarity, we shift between realities: clues are given, facts exposed – we see yet remain oblivious.
Not for the weak of heart, this black knife-edged comedy/drama is well directed and acted. James McAvoy certainly proves his thespian command. Clint Mansell’s original music effectively cycles us between the high and low episodes in Jon S. Baird’s screenplay. Matthew Jensen captures the visual variations, backed by Mark Eckersley’s nimble nips and cuts. In the U.K. ‘filth’ is slang, mainly pejorative, for the police and, as in the 1998 novel of the same name, indicative of the protagonist – “same rules apply…” eh, Bruce. (Marinell Haegelin)