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Filth and Wisdom

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Filth and Wisdom marks the directorial debut of Madonna, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The film plays like an above-average student film, at times pretentious and unnecessarily arty; it also has an infectious energy. There are even a few little moments of truth when it isn’t trying to come across as more profound than it really is. The plot revolves around a small group of young artist types involved in various aspects of sex work as a means to achieving their goals, thus illustrating the film’s Philosophy 101 message that in order to achieve wisdom, you must slog through the filth. A.K. (Eugene Hutz) is an aspiring musician who pays the bills by acting out kinky sex fantasies for his clients, often with the assistance of his female flat mates Holly (Holly Weston) and Juliette (Vicky McClure). He also narrates the film, frequently breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience. A.K. secretly has a crush on Holly, a ballerina who moonlights as a stripper. Juliette works in a pharmacy and dreams of the day she can go to Africa to help starving children. A.K. also helps out the reclusive blind writer (Richard E. Grant) who lives in his building, the two artists finding mutual inspiration in each other. It doesn’t really amount to much, but thanks to the engaging performances and a healthy dose of humor, it kept my interest. HH 1/2
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