The meaning of the film Filth (2013): plot analysis, essence, ending. The meaning of the film Filth an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name, is quite close to the idea of the original source. True, in the movies the story of a policeman plunging into the abyss of self-destruction is told a little more softly. However, this interpretation and presentation of the plot shocked many.
Country: UK, USA, Sweden, Germany, Belgium
Genre: crime, drama, comedy
Year of production: 2013
Director: John S. Baird
Actors: James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, Shirley Henderson, Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent.
Slogan: “The little pig went to town”
Awards and nominations: 2013 British Independent Film Award for Best Leading and Supporting Actor, 2014 Empire Award for Best Actor (James McAvoy).
What is the film Filth about?
Policeman Bruce Robertson is serious about getting a promotion. The chance to do this is to investigate the murder of a Japanese student, which was committed in an underground passage. Bruce’s colleagues are also vying for the coveted position of police inspector: Peter Inglis, Dougie Gillman, Gus Bane, Ray Lenox and Amanda Drummond. The hero tries to establish contact with almost everyone and some of them really perceive him as a comrade. However, from the description of his colleagues from Robertson himself and from his actions, we understand that he only uses everyone, setting them up and humiliating them at the first opportunity. For example, he sleeps with Dougie’s wife, turns others against Ray, and spreads rumors about Peter’s homosexual orientation.
From time to time we are shown the main character’s wife named Carol. She also looks forward to Bruce’s promotion and considers the relationship with her husband almost ideal, although quite selfish.
Meanwhile, the main character leads a depraved lifestyle, including promiscuity, consumption of huge amounts of alcohol and drugs. Bruce also constantly exceeds his official authority. Over time, the hero begins to hallucinate. Wanting to get rid of them, Bruce visits Dr. Rossi. But that doesn’t help. Moreover, the doctor appears in his nightmares, reminding him of his traumatic past – including the tragic death of his brother, which occurred as a child.
Bruce actively communicates with Clifford Blades, whom he calls Bladesy. This is a rather strange friendship for both. After all, the hero treats Bladesey no better than his colleagues. He harasses Clifford’s wife over the phone, introducing himself as one Frank – a name taken from a TV show. At the same time, Bruce pretends that he is actively looking for this Frank.
Due to his lifestyle, the hero can’t get his mind set on investigating the murder of a Japanese man. And the intrigues he weaves begin to work against him. Wanting to unwind, Bruce goes with Bladesey to Hamburg, where he also actively makes fun of his friend.
When the hero returns to Scotland, it turns out that he is suspended from work. The murder case has been assigned to Amanda Drummond. The dream of promotion is crumbling before our eyes. Falling into despair, Bruce frames Clifford, accusing him of being the telephone hooligan Frank. At the same time, the hero seduces Bladsey’s wife.
Intrigue, drugs and debauchery ruin Bruce’s life, but lead to moments of awareness. So, Bruce suddenly realizes that his wife Carol has actually not been around for a long time. She left him and took her daughter. Unwilling to accept the loss, the hero recreated the image of Carol in his hallucinations. Moreover, he tried it on himself, dressing in women’s clothing and walking around Edinburgh in it. In this form, the hero is one day caught by hooligans – the same ones who killed the student. The leader intended to kill Robertson too, leaving him alone. However, he managed to deal with the bandit. Peter Inglis and Amanda Drummond find the hero in a rather shabby appearance and in women’s attire.
The incident negatively affects Bruce’s reputation and he is demoted. And Ray Lenox becomes the detective inspector that the hero so wanted to become. Everyone turns away from Robertson. Only Mary, the widow of a man who died on the street from a heart attack, has good feelings towards them. Some time ago, Bruce tried to save him.
In the end, the hero records a video message addressed to Bladsey, who was released from the detention center. Bruce admits that he, like his friend, is afraid of this world, but does not show it. The hero says that it makes sense for Bladesey to be a little more confident and assertive. Robertson himself constructs a noose from a scarf donated by his widow. At the last moment, the hero sees Mary and her son approaching the door of his house, but they leave without waiting for him. Then Bruce says, “The rules are the same everywhere.” The chair leg breaks and the hero hangs in a noose.
The meaning of the film Filth
As often happens with film adaptations, in order to understand the meaning of the film Filth it is worth doing a short analysis of the content and meaning of the original source. In fact, the picture quite accurately reproduces both the main character of the book and his actions. Of course, the novel has more dirty details, reflection, and national flavor. By the way, both the movie and the book are called the same – “Filth”, which can be translated as Filth, and as “Shit”, and as “Garbage”, and as “Sewage”, etc.
The essence (of the film and the novel) is to immerse yourself with the hero in this very dirt, reflecting the ins and outs of Scottish society and the policeman Bruce Robertson in particular.
The picture makes you think about the answer to how and why the hero became like this. And partly the film gives an explanation: Bruce was strongly influenced by the death of his brother in childhood and the departure of his wife and child, which happened some time ago. The first event made me feel guilty – apparently, not unreasonably. The second deprived him of precious support and human relations – it seems that this was also not without the hero’s fault.
Both circumstances are revealed in more detail in the book. So, the murder of his brother, according to the novel, really happened because of a much better attitude towards him. But this attitude was dictated by very specific reasons. The fact is that Bruce was conceived as a result of the rape of his mother by a schizophrenic maniac. So the hero’s mental illness is probably hereditary. By the way, Bruce’s past in the book is told on behalf of the worm living in his body. And this parasitic worm is literally a separate, full-fledged personality who idolizes the hero and gives out entire monologues about this. In the film, we only see him on the doctor’s poster in Bruce’s visions.
And the departure of Bruce’s wife in the book is connected with the very murder that he undertook to investigate. According to the plot of the novel Filth the victim was not Japanese, but a black man. And the killer there is none other than Bruce himself. He finished off the poor fellow, beaten by bandits, while in “female guise.” The hero’s wife had previously also left for a black man, and communication with the victim activated this associative connection.
In general, in the book Filth Bruce’s motivation is more specific. And his philosophy of humiliation and suppression, concentrated in the slogan “The rules are always the same,” is fully justified by a number of life circumstances.
The filmmakers probably decided not to give any backstory to the character, so as not to make him look like a victim and thereby remove responsibility from him. So “the rules are always the same” only for Bruce himself, who simply does not want to live differently. Both the film and the book are full of hints that both the events and the people surrounding the hero are not at all as terrible as he sees them. All the dirt is inside Bruce himself. And constantly reproducing it is his choice.
Filth Ending explained
So, the meaning of the ending of the film Filth does not imply any revelation for the audience. Throughout the entire action, we are shown the hero without embellishment (though still making it clear that there is still something human left in him). And the plot twist in the finale reveals Bruce’s psychological trauma a little deeper, but does not justify it in any way. The phrase at the end before death is simply the hero’s credo (in the book, by the way, repeated many times). It reflects his worldview, but does not carry any hidden meaning or morality for the viewer.
To explain the ending, we can only add that in the end Bruce himself realized the inferiority of his position in life: the “single rule” of humiliation and suppression gives only the illusion of control, and drugs and debauchery give the illusion of happiness. That is why the hero in his message wishes his only friend to be a little more confident, improving his life and achieving present happiness.
- American Psycho (USA, Canada, 2000). The film with Christian Bale is perhaps the closest in spirit to Filth.
- Once Upon a Time in Ireland (Ireland, 2011). A corrupt policeman fights a gang of drug dealers.
- 99 francs (France, 2007). An adaptation of Frederic Beigbeder’s cynical novel about the advertising industry.
- Split (USA, Japan, 2017). James McAvoy returns as a dangerous psycho.