Filth downright nasty but fun, smart
Another Irvine Welsh masterpiece on celluloid
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 06:00 am
Starring James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots, Gary Lewis, Shauna MacDonald and Jim Broadbent
Written and Directed by Jon S. Baird
Rated: 18A for crude sexual content and nudity, substance abuse, profanity, and violence
Runtime: 98 minutes
Playing on July 4, 5 and 7 at 9:15 p.m., July 6 at 7 p.m. and July 9 at 9 p.m.
Metro Cinema in the Garneau Theatre, 8712 109 Street in Edmonton
Call 780-425-9212 or visit www.metrocinema.org for more details.
If you’re a fan of Irvine Welsh – the Scottish author behind Trainspotting – then you’re in for another treat of drugs, debauchery and depravity, and they all start with Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy).
Robertson is not the kind of guy you would want as a friend or a co-worker. He’s manipulative, crude, abusive and exploitative in numerous ways and also addicted to cocaine. He’s a downright jerk that smiles to your face when he wants you to give him something.
He’s also a cop who’s got his eyes on a major promotion, despite his many, many personal shortcomings. Despite all, he is entirely entertaining – from a second-hand perspective anyway. He does awful things, blames other people for them and gets away with everything.
He also does whatever he wants, as if the rules don’t apply to him.
“What made you join the force, Bruce?” his friend, Clifford, asks him.
“Police oppression, brother. I'd witnessed far too many cases of it in the mining community I grew up in,” Robertson responds, to which Clifford further tries to clarify that he wanted to stamp out the problem.
“No, I wanted to be a part of it.”
It’s what lies behind Robertson’s behaviour and his personality that humanizes him to the point of likeability. We get hints of marital discord and a traumatic incident in his life through flashbacks and quick scene cuts. We find him by himself at moments, crying. We learn that he takes psychiatric medications to treat some of the problems in his life. He has hallucinations too, possibly related to his trauma, the drugs or both.
A chance encounter with a woman and her son leads to a revelation that he tried – and failed – to save some man’s life. Yes, he’s a jerk but he’s our hero of this story and McAvoy’s performance is captivating. It’s not an easy task to manage. Imagine the masterful John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons. Both characters are darkly wonderful to watch but no one would be sympathetic to Vicomte de Valmont whose machinations injured or ruined as many people’s lives in that movie as Robertson does in this one. Kudos to McAvoy, an actor who is probably most familiar to North American audiences as the younger version of Dr. Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies. Managing his persona must be important in order to keep those comic book superhero movies as spectacular at the box office as possible. Choosing this role must have been a daring decision.
Audiences can otherwise expect Welsh’s trademark dark humour and content. This film isn’t as much of a seedy classic as Trainspotting is but it still engages in its story, something that will surely make you want to take a strong drink while watching and a hot, cleansing shower when it’s over.