This film comes with a health warning…and so does the book its based on. This really is an example of an actor playing against type – the idea of James MacAvoy, often cast as the pretty boy hero or a solid man of honour, playing Irvine Welsh’s ghastly protagonist, is a bit of a shock. But, frankly, its brilliant.
Bruce Robertson (MacAvoy) is a Detective Sergeant who wants a promotion. He’s supposed to be finding the killers of a Japanese student in Edinburgh. But, he’s also a monstrous, despicable human being who is more concerned with shagging, snorting, and boozing his way through his diminishing circle of cronies, colleagues, and call girls. Manipulative and bordering on sociopathic, Robertson fits up his wimpish best friend (Eddie Marsdan), torments a mousy but sex obsessed housewife (Shirley Henderson), spreads rumours about a colleague’s sexuality and also fucks their wives with abandon. And he utterly detests Amanda (Imogen Poots) – a female DS who he sneers will hopefully be impregnated by uniform and therefore stop trying to do his job. He’s a racist, mysogynistic, homophobic bully – but he’s also tormented by guilt, and loss. As the pieces start to fit together of Robertson’s shattered life, the initial contempt felt by the audience starts to become pity. Especially as he’s involved in a dialogue with a bonkers Aussie psychiatrist (Jim Boradbent). Overweight and with bad skin, MacAvoy has never looked rougher on celluloid – but also, never more human. A disturbing and graphic ride into the screwed up mind of one man, Baird has created a dazzling film that will play on your mind for days.
Highly recommended…but not for everyone!