Astrology: Film: Review: ‘Filth’ (2014)

Magnolia Pictures

Magnolia Pictures

The Mars archetype works overtime in Filth, directed and written by Jon S. Baird, and based on Irvine Welsh’s book. While over the top aggression, anger, abuse, sexual addiction and the infliction of pain of every sort dominate the life of Scottish detective sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), the red planet that rules weaponry is busy making an irreversible rift in his psyche.

Initially Bruce’s unsavory litany of truly vile behavior – especially towards women, physically and emotionally – is tied to gaming his chances for a promotion to inspector. And, with the exception of one straight-arrow female colleague Amanda (Imogen Poots), all his buddy-candidates competing for the same promotion are male (Jamie Bell, Emun Elliott and Gary Lewis).

Bruce has no problem doing and saying terrible things about his co-workers, specifically designed as a strategy to get them out of the running. He even conspires against Bladesey (Eddie Marsan), his best friend in the world, through Bladesey’s wife (Shirley Henderson), whom he sexually stalks by phone. The only person within Bruce’s circle who identifies with and embraces Mars simply as the conduit for going after what she wants is Amanda, who can condemn Bruce’s actions while still expressing concern for his well being.

During the time frame designated to appoint their new inspector, the precinct is also working on finding an elusive witness to a murder. But it doesn’t take long before Bruce’s ever escalating aberrant behavior strongly signals there’s more going on in Bruce’s brain – hallucinations involving animal heads, cocaine and alcohol addictions, flashbacks, and a worrisome vulnerability over a tragedy that has befallen a woman (Joanne Froggatt) – than just his diabolical get-ahead schemes. And, if Bruce’s avid pursuit of the prize seems tied to the hopes and expectations of his wife Carole (Shauna Macdonald), then why isn’t she ever at home?

In Filth, a relentlessly black comedy, Bruce’s psychic break, which results in his living inside a Neptunian blur, is neither funny nor redemptive. His increasingly fragile connection to reality is padded with fear which, in turn, demands boatloads of Martial anger to squelch it. The line between being mad at the world and descending into madness itself is thin, indeed.

Astrology Film Rating: ♂ (Mars)

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