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An Analysis of James McAvoy in the 2013 film, Filth.

I have selected to analyse James McAvoys performance as the corrupt detective, Bruce
Robertson, in the 2013 film, Filth.
McAvoy created the character of Bruce; firstly, by changing the way he spoke, moved
and looked. He grew a beard to give Bruce the rough and ready look but also managed
to make himself look rather sickly without the use of make up as if he is tired and under
the influence of a lot of drugs, which the character of Bruce was. McAvoy was born in
Scotland and so has a Scottish accent. He,
however, altered his dialect slightly for the role
of Bruce. His words became harsher, his vowels
became harder and the volume of his voice
appeared louder. However, this was not entirely
the case as McAvoys voice was not louder
unless he was shouting; he merely added a lot
more power behind the words he was saying.
McAvoy embodied the character by walking
with his shoulders further back which showed
that Bruce was a proud and cocky character and hips leading him which complimented
Bruces dialogue which was predominantly to do with sex or his promotion. McAvoy also
uses gestured to accentuate particular words or phrases. For example, he may salute
when greeting or leaving one of his victims and will quite often touch the arm of the
person he is speaking to. Although, when Bruce is experiencing genuine emotions such
as sadness, happiness or anger then his he either becomes quite frantic and his
gestures hold less meaning or he will stand still. McAvoy gives Bruce a very naturally
mischievous expression. He always looks like he is up to something. Even when he is
about to commit suicide, in the last few moments of the film, which is an incredibly
emotional moment, Bruce still has a naughty glimmer to his eye (see below right.)
McAvoy also uses his dialogue effectively by not drawing attention to when Bruce uses
expletives or insults. Quite often, actors may emphasis expletives but, because every
other word that Bruce says will offensive to some degree, McAvoy says it as a normal
person may comment about the weather so, when Bruce really is angry, you know
because there is a lot more emphasis on the expletives that he uses.
McAvoys performance impressed me throughout; however, I was particularly impressed
in the final moments of the film in which Bruce is preparing to commit suicide after
losing everything. The scene begins with Bladesey, played by Eddie Marsan, sitting
down to watch a recorded video of Bruce. Bruce is dressed in uniform, sits down and
then begins to speak. For the first time in the film, you see Bruce speaking very
honestly. His voice is a lot calmer and softer. Despite the fact that he is stilling picking
on Bladesey, it is in a lot kinder way; in the way friends do pick faults and call each
other names. It is a lot less cruel and cold compared to the way Bruce has behaved in
the rest of the film. While this is going on, we see snippets of a very solemn looking
Bruce, standing on the same chair and tying a scarf around his neck, preparing to take
his own life which is such a big contrast to the light heartedness of the video where
Bruce is telling Bladesey to get contact [lenses] or something. You feel as though you
should be emotionally invested as Bruce stands on the chair but you cant quite bring
yourself to because of quite how methodical and emotionless Bruce is he brushes

Hannah Kennedy

himself down and stands tall as if he is about to take on another day at the office. You
can only really feel as much as the character. To begin with, this may seem like a bad
acting decision but, by the end of the scene, his reasoning becomes apparent because,
as he steps up and into the top of the chair and begins to kick it from underneath his
feet there is this flash of fear and then
the doorbell rings and then the fear
doubles as he realises that Mary,
played by Joanne Frogatt, appears at
the doorbell. McAvoy gives Bruce a
few moments where you really think
he may change his mind and call for
help as you see some genuine fear
and hope on his face. You begin to
wonder if this Bruce is the same
Bruce that you met at the beginning
of the film and then this big, devilish
grin fills McAvoys face accompanied by a little giggle as Bruce utters same rules
apply and then you realise that some people never change.
In my opinion a good performance has to have some truth behind it. You can be the best
actor in the world but if you cant draw upon your own experiences to give the words
that you are delivering and the actions you are making some honesty then your
performance can fall flat. I think if you make sure that your performance is truthful and
comes from the heart instead of the head then everything else will follow suit i.e.
being entertaining, being believable and being emotional. If you are truthful then you
have no fear that you will go over the top or wont be giving enough because you will
be able to judge your own performance in comparison to your own experiences as a
human being. The likelihood is that an actor will play a human and since being human is
something we can all relate to and, as human beings, we all have our own lives and
experiences, it is important to be able to being a level of empathy for the character you
are playing. Even if you are playing an awful person, like Bruce Robertson, there is a
part inside all of us that will be able to relate to what he is going through.

Hannah Kennedy