From the Berlinale Talent Campus website:
Heavy on Schmutz, Light on Weisheit
Following in the footsteps of the Rolling Stones, Patti Smith and Gorillaz, Madonna has become the latest popstar to bring a film to the Berlinale. The press screening of FILTH AND WISDOM as part of this year’s Panorama section, attracted a huge crowd of journalists, all eager to watch the singer’s attempt at moviemaking. The turnout showed that Madonna’s star power can bring in even the most sceptical audience. Unfortunately, though, being a film director might just be a transformation too far for the Material Girl.
Her husband’s influence is clear in one strand of the tale, concerning young Londoner Holly’s incipient career as a pole-dancer. It’s set amongst the Essex boys and girls of Guy Ritchie’s work, such as LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS. Holly’s flatmates include the philosophically-inclined Ukrainian singer André and the pill-stealing pharmacist Juliet. A variety of weird and whacky things happen to them over an indeterminate time period, as the characters deal with their rather predictable inner demons.
The film has the feel of a sitcom, and is an uneasy mix of cheesy and pretentious. Someone got the proportion of wisdom to filth wrong, it seems. For instance, almost all the characters have a scene in which they are curled up on their respective beds in a foetal position, clutching the pillow and looking anguished, while the camera hovers above like a concerned mother. The shot is nice once, but its repetition bulldozes the point home, that these people have problems! Filth creates problems! Dealing with problems leads to wisdom!
Eugene Hütz, in the main role of André, basically plays himself, and attempts to get his real-life band, Gogol Bordello, signed to a label. This suggests a desperate attempt on the movie’s part to get down with the kids by showing that Madonna’s heard of this new, young band. Filth and Wisdom is a star vehicle for Hütz, with the final scene showing all the characters united and delirious with joy, grooving to his “Transglobal Gypsy Punk Rock.” There are happy endings all around, with not a loose strand to be found. Or a point.
Someone at The Times of London liked it more…