Friday, December 19, 2008

Filth and Wisdom

My review of Madonna's movie, Filth and Wisdom, appears in this week's WE.

Filth & Wisdom - Movie Stills

By Andrea Warner
3 stars (out of 5)

Her music felt stale 20 years ago, but writer/director Madonna manages to strike a chord with her surprisingly affecting indie dramedy, Filth and Wisdom.

The Material Girl dispenses faux-sage advice via her narrator, A.K. (first-time actor Eugene Hutz, front man of the gypsy-rock group Gogol Bordello), but she also proves to possess a genuinely witty observation for the minutiae of everyday fuck-ups trying to survive.

A.K. and his two flatmates (remember, this was made at the height of her London phase), Juliette and Holly, lead vaguely depressing lives that rest firmly on the sordid side. A.K. is a freelance, cross-dressing dominatrix who wants his band to succeed; Holly’s a ballet dancer by day and stripper by night; and Juliette longs to help orphans in Africa, but is stuck pilfering pills from her mooning, married pharmacist boss.

There are plenty of secondary and tertiary characters who mix with the trio, but the real heart of the film beats vibrantly whenever A.K. or Holly interact with downstairs neighbour, and author, Professor Flynn (the utterly fantastic Richard E. Grant), who loves words but hasn’t written a single one since he went blind.

Daddy issues and dysfunction are predictably de rigeur under Madonna’s direction, and her enthusiasm for video-style montages set to music needs to be curbed. Nevertheless, Filth and Wisdom is exuberant, touching, and enjoyably messy, proving Madonna may have a few surprises yet. 

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