Dirty Filthy Love

Dirty Filthy Love

What makes Dirty Filthy Love work
so incredibly well is the cast

Dirty Filthy Love

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Film has from the very start always been fond of the love story, you know, boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, yada yada.

Just when it seems that every possible variation of the theme has been explored completely a film like Filthy Dirty Love and shows that an imaginative writer can give us a whole new view of the matter. Life is really bad for Mark Furness (Michael Sheen) his wife, Stevie (Anastasia Griffith) has just asked him to leave, he has lost his job and as if that is not enough he suffers from both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourette's Syndrome. As most of you probably know OCD results in a person having to do things in a certain order, repeat actions a specific number of times or be overly concerned with cleanliness. Tourette's is a bit rarer but just as devastating. It causes the person to have uncontrollable ticks and out bursts of sounds and foul language. There is little wonder that Mark was also diagnosed as being clinically depressed. When his wife throws him out she doesn’t even pack his things in standard luggage, she packs him off with a pair of over stuffed large green trash bags. Mark tries to get some sympathy and help from his friends Nathan (Adrian Bower) and Kathy but try as the do they are unable to provide the assistance Mark requires. After spotting his estranged wife having coffee with a coworker Mark is approached by a young woman, Charlotte (Shirley Henderson) also with OCD, she tells him about a support group and Mark decides that he needs to make a change and joins in.

Mark finds Charlotte amazing. She is very up front with her OCD, something finds this liberating. After a lifetime of trying to conceal his medical problem he finally found someone that can not only empathize with but actually discuss the more embarrassing aspects of his life. Charlotte fits naturally as the ad hoc leader of therapy group; collecting their constant wet wipes during a trip to a farm and making everyone stick their hands in mud. The look of terror on their faces during this exercise is absolutely priceless! You would think they where being tortured, which in their minds they where. When the time was up they run as fast as possible to wash off. Besides being a love story this is a tale of people that know there is something wrong but try to muster the courage to face it.

Dirty Filthy Love is a tender film, flowing with a natural grace. The progression of the emotional bond between Mark and Charlotte is never rushed, never artificial. On the farm Charlotte confesses to Mark that she finds him attractive, during the ride back she falls asleep with her head on his shoulder. Mark has found a kindred spirit but one who is willing to take on her disorder head on. She gives him strength and in return he gives her the acceptance that she needs. We get to see a transition with these two damaged people. When Mark has to read the group a detailed note on his personal hygiene problems you can see the acceptance in the eyes of Charlotte, a stark contrast to the fear in Mark’s eyes. One group member is obsessed with turning off lights leaving Mark and Charlotte in the dark; she leans in to him and kisses him gently telling him she feels he is very brave. After this Mark is able to climb a set of stairs without his usual repeating of every forth step. This is a refreshing departure from the typical lust filled Hollywood treatment. Although Mark can see progress in his life Stevie’s lawyer informs him that she wants to more on to a formal divorce. Mark now has to abandon change for the sake of Stevie and realize he has to do this for himself and eventually for his relationship with Charlotte.

What makes Dirty Filthy Love work so incredibly well is the cast. While main stream film makers would have chosen an unbelievably beautiful cast here we have regular looking people. Michael Sheen is a plays Mark as a average man that just happened to have some serious psychological problems. The audience can identify with his emotional plight even if we can’t fully understand his disorders. Our hearts can go out to him when Stevie makes love to him after the announcement of the divorce, we know that this was out of pity and would be the last time. During this Charlotte remains a good friend, falling for Mark but knowing he still loves Stevie. This is wonderfully done with the performance of Shirley Henderson. She creates a character in Charlotte that is endearing and captivating. She has amazing control over her abilities letting us growing emotionally with her character. She lets the transition from friendship to lovers happen slowly in an organic fashion. Henderson has an infectious little laugh that carries the up side of her performance. Anastasia Griffith has the difficult position of playing the alienated wife. Many would have gone with making her unsympathic but the writers here show her as a woman that loves her husband but just can’t live with the afflictions that control his life.

The screen play by Jeff Pope and Ian Puleston-Davies is incredible. Puleston-Davies drew a lot of Dirty Filthy Love from his own experience with OCD and this translated as just the right touch of realism. These disorders are often played for laughs on television such as in the USA television series Monk. With Dirty Filthy Love, show the disorders are treated with a more serious pen, just how devastating they can be on those that are afflicted with them. Dirty Filthy Love is all in the pacing how it transitions through the changes that Mark is undergoing. They show the audience Mark hitting absolute bottom, long hair and stringy hair, giving in completely to his disease, desperately following Stevie. Even in these scenes there is a touch of hope that Mark will pull himself together. Adrian Shergold directed Dirty Filthy Love with a style we don’t often see in films today. There is no rush in getting to the conclusion; it’s the journey that really matters. What a journey it is. The emotional impact of Dirty Filthy Love hits hard, it touches the most human core in the audience.

Hart Sharp may be a smaller distributor but they are among the best. With Filthy Dirty Love they continue to present little gems under their Sundance Film Festival series. I have yet to see one film in this series that did not impress me. The video is a clear anamorphic 1.85:1. The color palette reflects the emotional tones of the story, muted during scenes of despair, brightening as Mark regains some degree of control. The audio is in Dolby Stereo and does a better than average job. With a film such as Dirty Filthy Love you don’t need the full six speakers, the front and center speakers get the job done nicely. Even with a limited number of speakers employed the sound is rich and full. Do yourself a favor and watch Dirty Filthy Love, Dirty Filthy Love is a love story the likes of which you will never forget.

Movie Review of Dirty Filthy Love by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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