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A heady cocktail is mixed from the book

Filth starring James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson. PA Photo/Lionsgate.

Filth starring James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson. PA Photo/Lionsgate.

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 15 years ago has a film realised Welsh’s distinctive voice with such flair. 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.

 

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