For a lover of good
cinema, there can be few terms more potentially horrifying than this one: “A
film by Madonna.”
After all, despite the fact that she is undeniably a musical icon, Madonna’s
motion picture career has essentially been one
terrific-if-highly-autobiographical role in one very good movie (Desperately
Seeking Susan) followed by 23 years of scary-awful films and some of the
worst acting in history, usually committed by the singing
Still, you have to give Madonna credit for stick-to-it-ness. If only she
were the only one who had to watch her exercises in self-indulgence.
Filth and Wisdom,
the directing debut of the former material girl, has at least one big thing
in its favor when compared to all of Madonna’s previous excursions onto
celluloid – the fact that Madonna herself does not act in the movie.
Unfortunately, the film is still saddled with Madonna as a co-screenwriter.
Filth and Wisdom
story of three attractive bohemian 20-somethings living in London who
prattle on endlessly
about sex and philosophy while chasing their dreams.
The star of her film, ironically, is another singer – though one whose
musical standing is on an entirely different recognition level – Eugene Hutz,
leader of the gypsy-punk cult-fave Gogol Bordello. Hutz has also
successfully dipped a toe into acting with a terrific performance in
the 2005 drama Everything is Illuminated – which
ironically was also directed by an actor-turned-novice director, Liev
the record, Schreiber did a better job of harnessing Hutz's oddball charm,
which Madonna allows to go a little hogwild.)
plays AK – a slight variation on
his Illuminated character and on
himself – the character
leads a struggling gypsy-punk band called Gogol
Bordello. AK is an
eccentric East European immigrant who is trying to become a musical star (he
literally stops people on the street, opens their CD players and sticks his
demo in). While he waits for his ship to come in he makes a living as a
gopher for a morose blind poet (Madonna’s friend Richard
E. Grant, obviously doing a
big favor) and working as
a gay master to humiliate (but not have sex with) other men.
lives with two beautiful and equally poor young women. He is obviously in
love with Holly – a slightly uptight and innocent struggling wannabe
ballerina who AK finally talks into using her dancing skills as a stripper.
Juliet is a smart (dig the Eurotrash short hairdo!) and sensitive
pharmacist’s assistant who wants to help feed starving Africans, but instead
steals drugs from her smitten, married boss.
much happens from there on, other than loads of navel-gazing and our heroes
all somehow, almost by chance, stumble upon some kind of happiness.
most interesting or intriguing moments here are a few short musical
performances by Gogol Bordello, which capture the lowbrow sleazy energy and
fun that the rest of the film can’t quite get to.
truth of the matter is Filth and Wisdom is not overly filthy (for a
movie that talks about sex on a near-constant basis, it is actually rather
chaste), nor is it particularly wise. It's also not good – though it is not
quite as horrible as some of the films Madonna has been involved with in the
past. It turns out that Madonna is a better director than she is an actress
– maybe all those years married to Guy Richie rubbed off a little. Still,
she would be better off devoting her time to resurrecting her steadily
diminishing musical career and leaving the movies to the professionals.
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: December 5, 2008.