FILTH AND WISDOM
A Mixed Bag from the Material Girl
Release Date: October 17, 2008
Runtime: 84 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Executive Producer: Madonna
Producer: Nicola Doring
Writer: Madonna and Dan Cadan
Address Comments To:Jonathan Sehring, President
IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Joshua Sapan, President/CEO
Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
(Independent Film Channel/IFC Films/IFC First Take/AMC/WE)
11 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 324-8500
The story in FILTH AND WIDSDOM is book-ended with a philosophical narration by the main character, a Ukrainian immigrant in London named A.K. A.K. is trying to reach musical stardom with his gypsy punk rock band, but, to make ends meet, he is a sex worker who whips and sometimes kicks male clients. A.K. tells the viewer that filth and wisdom are “two sides of the same coin.” Thus, people who are wise and pure have a dark side that eventually comes out, and vice versa.
A.K. has two female roommates. He is secretly in love with the first one, a pretty ballerina named Holly, though you wouldn’t know it from the things he does. For example, on A.K.’s advice, Holly decides to work at a strip club to finance her ballet classes.
His other roommate, Juliette, is a druggist’s assistant who dreams of helping children in Africa, but she steals various pill bottles from the shelves to ease her depression. Juliette’s henpecked boss, Sardeep, is an Indian immigrant who’s infatuated with her.
A.K. also tries to counsel Flynn, the older blind poet and professor who lives downstairs. Flynn has given up on writing and on life. A.K., however, greatly admires Flynn’s poetry. He makes it his personal mission to eliminate the professor’s despair.
Madonna must have realized the sleazier aspects of her movie would not sell, because she ends all these stories with a happy ending resulting from several unexpected acts of kindness and compassion. Even the chemist’s screaming wife becomes a sympathetic figure who manages to patch things up with her husband.
The positive ending overshadows the movie’s sleazy parts. In fact, the movie’s happy ending actually contradicts A.K.’s philosophy about filth often ending in wisdom and wisdom often ending in filth. Thus, in all the stories, it becomes clear that wisdom, compassion, generosity, and forgiveness are superior values. Wisdom and wickedness, therefore, are not two sides of the same coin, contrary to what the protagonist directly tells viewers. It is perhaps comforting to realize that even a mixed-up, confused, sinful, and iconoclastic pagan like Madonna knows this to be true.
FILTH AND WISDOM is well directed and acted. The movie even convinces viewers to care about its struggling characters. Examples of this are when we see the blind poet sinking into despair but being helped out of it by A.K., when the chemist’s bedraggled wife cries alone in her room after her children won’t stop fighting but lovingly takes off her husband’s slippers when he falls asleep on the couch, and when Juliette tearfully realizes her dream of going to Africa to help needy children. The movie contains even more excellent examples of such heartfelt epiphanies or revealing moments.
Even so, FILTH AND WISDOM contains abundant foul language and lewd sexual references (especially in its first half). For example, the “f” word is tossed around, and two of A.K.’s male clients clearly enjoy getting whipped on their behinds. This obscene material is clearly gratuitous, because the story doesn’t really need it to be successful. And, neither does Madonna’s career right now. In fact, her movie could have reached a broader audience, to the point perhaps of even reinvigorating her career, if she had exercised more media wisdom and more restraint. Please pray that she finally learns her lesson and turns to God and His Word through Jesus Christ.
Madonna must have realized the sleazier aspects of this movie would not sell, because she ends these stories with several happy resolutions caused by several unexpected acts of kindness and compassion. Thus, the ending proves that wisdom, compassion, generosity, and forgiveness are superior values. Though FILTH AND WISDOM is surprisingly well done, it has too much gratuitous foul language. It also contains some sleazy sexual material that’s also gratuitous (though it could have been made much worse). Madonna and her collaborators obviously need spiritual and moral guidance.