Dirty Filthy Love
Sundance Channel // R // $26.99 // May 24, 2005
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted May 24, 2005
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In 10 Words or Less
A young man, a mental disorder and--UHHHHH!

The Movie
No, this is not a porno film, nor is it a film about porn. Instead, the love in the title is, in fact, love, the dirty is actual dirt, and the filthy is filthy language. For once, truth in advertising actually works.

This is the story of Mark (Michael Sheen, Underworld) a man who should be very happy, with a beautiful wife and a good job as an architect. Unfortunately, he has two other things not everyone has, and that's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tourette's syndrome. Having just one of these mental problems is enough to make a person's life a struggle. Having two makes it a near impossibility, as Mark quickly learns. They are, after all, the reasons he loses it all, as the repetitive behaviors caused by OCD and the outbursts and tics associated with Tourette's ruin his life, costing him his marriage and job.

At the end of his rope, Mark turns to medicine to try and cure his troubles, but he finds his potential solution in the waiting room, in the form of Charlotte (Shirley Henderson, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) a fellow sufferer who invites him to a support group she runs. The group is just what he needs to get his head straight, and Charlotte's just the girl to help him.

There's a Benny & Joon sort of romance at work between Mark and Charlotte, but more real, once you get past the personality quirks that seem exaggerated, but really aren't. The support group they are a part of together is the film's comic relief; a chance to laugh at Mark's problems, as well as those of the rest of the group. These scenes are so comedically perfect that they underscore the serious nature of the rest of the film, and gives the movie a sense of gravity it could have otherwise lost to the more unusual aspects of the diseases it chronicles.

If, at this point, you think Mark's fallen far enough, you don't know the half of it, as his spiral down isn't close to done, and there's still a world of hurt waiting for him. Fortunately for this film, Sheen makes his character worthy of the audience's sympathy, with the kind of everyman performance that Paul Giamatti has created a career out of. He's assisted by Henderson's quirk-filled foil, a script that walks the line of dramedy, and a visual style that makes even the mundane fascinating.

It doesn't affect anything on-screen, but one of the more interesting aspects of this film, is the fact that it's a TV movie, produced for ITV in England. I can't imagine anything even close to this film in terms of creativity or quality showing up on American networks. In fact, I don't think I've seen anything this impressive on HBO. From the subject matter to the filmmaking to the acting, this movie is top-notch.

In a standard keepcase, you'll find Dirty Filthy Love on one DVD, with static anamorphic widescreen menus. Options include play film, select scenes and view special features and sneak previews. The scene selection menus have still previews and titles for each scene. There are no language options and no subtitles, but the film does have closed captioning.

The Quality
For the most part, the film has a very cold color palette, with the type of slight dullness that's a specialty of British television. The image is a bit soft, with a less than optimal amount of fine detail, but overall, it looks very clean. This transfer, encoded at an impressive 9.8Mbps, compliments the very creative visual techniques used.

Aurally, the film is as detailed as it is visually, using sound as a part of the effort to convey Mark's disorders. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, and is a rather strong mix. The scene where Mark shaves relies entirely on the sound to tell the story, and it does an excellent job of it. As a dialogue-heavy film, the presentation is just right.

The Extras
The only film-related special feature viewable on this DVD is the film's trailer, which is actually a pretty good introduction to the film. There are also seven trailers for other Sundance Channel DVDs. Putting this disc into your DVD-ROM drive will provide access to production notes, in PDF format, and Web links.

The Bottom Line
This could have been an utter disaster, as anytime you deal with the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome on film, you run the risk of making a slapstick comedy, and killing the impact of anything else you say in the movie. Incredibly, through a combination of an inspired script and an excellent performance by Sheen, as a man who loses everything simply because he can't control his own impulses, this movie ends up being truly original and wonderful. The DVD presentation is good in terms of quality, but there's next to nothing as far as bonus content is concerned. A rental should cover most viewers' curiosity regarding this unique and entertaining film.

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