Director Madonna as good as actor Madonna, say critics
Critics damned Madonna's first feature film with faint praise on Thursday and suggested her career behind the camera might be as successful as her acting.
Filth & Wisdom had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday and early reviews agreed a poor-to-average movie was saved by its exuberance.
"Ragged, uneven and potholed with some dire dialogue and performances, the film's cockeyed optimism and likeable leads conspire to bring a smile by the time it's done," wrote Ray Bennett of movie publication the Hollywood Reporter.
Screen International's Jonathan Romney argued Filth & Wisdom was not as bad as some of Madonna's appearances in front of the camera, such as Shanghai Surprise and SweptAway, but it was "likely to be forgotten as quickly as most of them".
James Christopher of the Times, in a review billed as "exclusive", was among the film's biggest fans, giving it three stars out of five.
"What saves the film is its sheer exuberance, and, of course, the music," he said. "Altmanesque would be stretching the compliment too far, but Filth and Wisdom shows Madonna has real potential as a film director."
At the other end of the scale, Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian gave one star to the 81-minute movie.
"Madonna has been a terrible actor in many, many films and now -- fiercely aspirational as ever -- she has graduated to being a terrible director," he wrote.
"She has made a movie so incredibly bad that Berlin festival goers were staggering around yesterday in a state of clinical shock."
Filth & Wisdom follows three oddball flatmates in London chasing dreams of fame and fulfilment while doing unsavoury jobs to make ends meet.
Its main character, AK, is played by Ukrainian Eugene Hutz, and the music from his real-life punk band Gogol Bordello is used extensively throughout.
Madonna told reporters the basic point of the story was to explore the "duality" of life, between "light and dark", "right and wrong", and that the filth and wisdom of the title were not so very far apart.
"The message in ... Madonna's first outing as feature film director ... is that all of us can find peace of mind if we just get in touch with our inner slut," wrote Bennett.
The 49-year-old singer said this week she planned to make more movies in the future, and she is unlikely to be too bothered by what the critics say.
Asked on the red carpet whether she would read the reviews, she replied: "I'll just let my managers tell me what they say. I don't want to read it myself."