Adapted from an Irvine Welsh novel of the same name, Filth will be a frustrating watch for those familiar with the work, and a confusing watch for those without bias.
Though infused with an infectious anarchic energy, Filth confuses rudeness with rebellion. Even the gleeful excesses can’t save the film’s muddled script as it loses its narrative steam and plummets into melodrama. The wickedness feels less like provocation and more like a diversion to hide the wafer-thin story. In other words, Filth is all talk and no shock.
There’s a much quoted line from David Fincher’s Seven, found in one of many notebooks scribbled by horrific serial killer John Doe, that reads: “Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light”. The sentiment and association is very appropriate when musing on the visceral sledgehammer assault on emotions, morality and senses represented by David Peace’s Red Riding series, a sprawling nine year epic of neo-noir, adult fear and a simmering stew of all forms of human evil.
On a narrative level, “Same Exactly” ties up all the necessary loose ends. The three major conflicts that had to be dealt with- the unhinged, still-on-the-loose Sully, Frank and the FBI potentially taking Ray down, and the sudden reveal of Ray’s molestation as a child- are wrapped up with a nice dollop of closure for each. Ray Donovan even manages to reverse one of the more gaping holes in the show’s logic. For an entire season we waited to find out just why Ray wanted his father dead; last week’s reveal pointed the way forward and now “Same Exactly” gives us a genuine, compelling reason. That Ray’s been acting out the revenge fantasy he’s had since childhood makes perfect sense. His motivation never seemed fully-formed, which matches perfectly with the anger a child would have at a neglectful father.
It’s amazing what a few story limitations can do. When Ray Donovan has a whole city at its disposal, with recurring parts and guest stars galore, it gets sidetracked with alarming frequency. Yet force Ray Donovan into a bottle episode, and its rambling nature starts to fade away. The show is able to play far more to its strengths, and delivers a satisfying gut punch with “Bucky F**n’ Dent.”
Few things are more frustrating than seeing a series make the same mistakes, week in and week out. Ray Donovan chugs along towards its eventual conclusion, and what plagued those early episodes continues to plague “Fite Nite.” There’s been no improvements on the weak characterization, poor pacing, poor plotting and the total absence of believable actions taken by these characters.
After the critical blessing that his indoctrinating debut Martha Marcy May Marlene generated on the festival circuit back in 2011, Sean Durkin’s sophomore feature was awarded a big screen projection at the Special Presentation strand of the Toronto Film Festival this week, an unusual upgrade as this four-part TV funded saga has already been aired on the UK’s Channel 4 network.
Eight episodes in and Ray Donovan has a decent level of emotional weight behind its characters. When Ray and Bridget share a tender moment at the close of “Bridget,” there’s real warmth onscreen. The same goes for nearly anyone else- no matter what the situation, these characters are not hollow. They’re people; and despite the show’s continual mistakes, the mere fact that we’ve spent eight hours with these people means we’ve made some tenuous connection with them.
Four episodes into Ray Donovan and already a regular viewing pattern emerges. When Ray appears onscreen, the natural reaction is to tense up. These are the moments when the show is at its bleakest; when it truly tries to be a crime drama and not some mishmash of family interludes and semi-comedic relationships that might actually be intended for comedic effect.
With its second episode, Ray Donovan seems content to coast along the standards set by the pilot. Like its predecessor, “A Mouth is a Mouth” is split down the middle, with the Hollywood fixer side vastly outperforming the family drama side. This week follows Ray down a continuation of last week’s initial fix, as Tommy Wheeler finds himself being blackmailed by the transsexual he was involved with in the pilot, all while Mickey continues to bond with Ray’s wife and kids (much to the chagrin of Ray).
Snow White and the Huntsman Written by Evan Daugherty, John …