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R18: violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this movie.

Filth poster

Date registered: 08/10/2013

About the film

Filth is a Scottish comedy drama about a misanthropic, drug and alcohol-addicted, misogynist, racist police officer - Bruce Robertson - who wants to secure a promotion at work and win back his wife and daughter.

Bruce is selected to lead an investigation into the hate killing of a Japanese exchange student. Even though he apparently knows who the killers are Bruce makes little progress on the investigation, and instead sets about sabotaging and undermining his colleagues' chances of success for promotion.

A still image from the film - Robertson at his desk making the middle finger 'fuck you' gesture

Classification criteria: Sex

The film contains frequent crass verbal references to sexual activity, and several sex scenes. The sex scenes are graphic and realistically-simulated.

A still image from the film - Robertson speaking threateningly to a prostitute in a brothel

Classification criteria: Crime

The film deals extensively with matters of crime. Bruce snorts cocaine throughout the film. He carries a vial of cocaine around with him and is often shown snorting from it. Bruce's constant drug and alcohol abuse contribute to his erratic behaviour, his ostracism from those around him, and eventual breakdown.

A still image from the film - Robertson shows off his vials of cocaine

Classification criteria: Cruelty and violence

The film depicts the infliction of serious physical harm and acts of significant cruelty to a limited extent but high degree. The strongest violence and cruelty is depicted towards the end of the film.

A still image from the film - Robertson with bared teeth and tears in his eyes

Classification criteria: Highly offensive language

The film contains the frequent use of highly offensive language. The language is often used in an aggressive manner and would be highly offensive to the public in general and if emulated likely to result in serious harms such as alienation or intimidation. There is also extensive racist and homophobic language by several of the characters. Despite being part of the portrayal of offensive characters and prejudices in the story, this language is normalised and presented as essentially funny.

A still image from the film - Robertson making the middle finger 'fuck you' gesture

Classification criteria: Dominant effect of the publication as a whole

The publication's dominant effect is an extremely black, stylistic comedy drama about an obnoxious, narcissistic, corrupt police officer whose anti-social behaviour catches up with him.

A still image from the film - Robertson, alone in his room, tears in his eyes

Decision summary

The unrestricted availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good. The attitudes and behaviour of children and teenagers are likely to be negatively affected by exposure to the adult material contained in the film, such as sexual coercion of a minor, the extensive use of drugs, realistically-depicted scenes of sexual activity which in two cases involve asphyxiation, frequent use of highly offensive language and a scene depicting an intensely violent assault. This material is likely to be greatly disturbing and shocking to younger viewers, and may normalise irresponsible behaviour.

The film's availability is therefore restricted to people who are at least 18 years of age. This classification interferes with the freedom of expression contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 but is consistent with s3(3) of the Classification Act to limit the availability of publications likely to be injurious to the public good.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R18 label
R18: violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes