Early on in Filth and Wisdom the movie’s narrator and star A.K. (Eugene Hutz) says, “In my country we have a saying… He who licks knives will eventually cut his tongue.” In film critic land we also have a saying. “He who watches this movie all the way to the end will want to cut their eyes out…” Filth and Wisdom is so amateurish, so poorly made that if Madonna’s name wasn’t on it as director and screenwriter you’d only be able to find it in delete bins nestled against copies of Shanghai Surprise.
The story, such that it is, centers around three flat mates in a rundown London boarding house. A.K. (Ukrainian punk singer Hutz) is an aspiring musician by day, male dominatrix by night, while Holly (Holly Weston) is an unemployed ballet dancer who moonlights as a pole dancer and Juliette (Vicky McClure) is a pharmacist who steals drugs from her place of business to send to sick orphans in Africa.
Madonna claims Godard, Pasolini, Fellini and Visconti as her cinematic inspirations, but the slap dash nature of the film points more towards Benny Hill than any of the French New Wave or Italian neorealists she apparently so admires. From the incompetent performances to the dated, silly—and unsexy—sexual content to its Philosophy 101 meanderings Filth and Wisdom feels like cutting edge ideas… from 1982. It‘s the work yo’d expect from an overly earnest and inexperienced film student, not an international superstar who is usually anything but earnest and certainly not inexperienced.
The addition of a kickin’ soundtrack and some interesting work from the strangely charismatic Hutz cannot rescue Filth and Wisdom from the cinematic dung heap.