Filth and Wisdom (2008)



Critic Consensus: Filth and Wisdom, while certainly ambitious, is mostly unconvincing and incoherent.

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Movie Info

After more than two decades as one of the world's most recognizable stars, Madonna steps behind the camera for the first time with this comedy drama about a handful of bohemians struggling to make a name for themselves in London, which she both wrote and directed. A.K. (Eugene Hutz) is a Ukrainian émigré and struggling musician who fronts a band blending gypsy music with punk rock. Still coming to terms with a childhood pock-marked by abuse, A.K. believes that one has to confront the seamy side of life to find enlightenment, and with this in mind he supports himself by torturing masochists for money while dressed in military gear. Living in the same decaying apartment block as A.K. is Holly (Holly Weston), a gifted dancer who dreams of becoming a ballet star, though now she's forced to degrade herself as a stripper at a "gentleman's nightclub." A.K. is enamored of Holly, but can't work up the nerve to make a move. Elsewhere in the building, Juliette (Vicky McClure) wants to help children in the Third World, but is biding her time working at a pharmacy, where she swipes medicine for charity when she isn't pocketing recreational material for herself, and Professor Flynn (Richard E. Grant) is a blind poet who is surrounded by a personal library of books he can no longer read. Filth and Wisdom also features several performances by Gogol Bordello, the band Eugene Hutz leads in real life; the film received its world premiere at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival.
R (for strong violence, pervasive language and brief drug content.)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
IFC Films


Vicky McClure
as Juliette
Richard E. Grant
as Prof. Flynn
Inder Manocha
as Sardeep
Elliot Levey
as Business Man
Stephen Graham
as Harry Beechman
Shobu Kapoor
as Sardeep's Wife
Olegar Fedoro
as A.K.'s Father
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Critic Reviews for Filth and Wisdom

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (29)

This is a terrible, terrible worthless movie that you shouldn't give any time to.

November 10, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

I'm confident the material girl has more good material for movies ahead of her.

Full Review… | November 10, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

Does anyone remember when Madonna was considered shocking?

Full Review… | October 31, 2008
Toronto Star
Top Critic

At 84 minutes, the movie feels both overpadded and underdeveloped.

October 31, 2008
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Message to the director: Don't quit your day job just yet, but in the category of multidisciplinary artists moonlighting as filmmakers, I'll take you over Julian Schnabel any day.

Full Review… | October 30, 2008
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Curiosity-seekers may trickle in, but despite the deliberate move to release the flick unrated, there's nothing in here to merit a raised eyebrow.

Full Review… | October 28, 2008
Boxoffice Magazine
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Filth and Wisdom


Is Madonna's "Filth and Wisdom" as bad as you've heard? Well, I have to say yes. When the film came out, it was savaged by critics and pulled from circulation in just a few days. I suspected the critics were being overly negative, as they are wont to do when a woman artist takes risks. But in this case the extreme pans were deserved. "Filth and Wisdom" is almost as bad as Joaquin Phoenix's spectacularly stupid and self-indulgent "I'm Still Here" (2010). The only redeeming value is that the bits with Eugene Hutz, lead singer of the band Gogol Bordello, do occasionally become interesting. I suspect that Hutz could turn into something of a darling of underground cinema. He would just require a director and writer who's got more going on upstairs than Madonna. I yield to no one in my appreciation for Madonna, but it can't be denied: she's no thinker. And she's not much of a natural behind the camera either. Most of the scenes in "Filth and Wisdom" looked to me like they were directed by an eight-year-old, and not a particularly smart or interesting one.

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

(***): Thumbs Up I liked the cast (especially the small performance from Richard E. Grant) and exceeded my expectations.


Retarded message, terrible story. But Eugene Hutz is just always so fantastic being himself I couldn't resist.

Jenna Ipcar
Jenna Ipcar

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