Filth and wisdom: They are two sides of the same coin. This is the first of many adages that spill from the mouth of A.K., the immigrant protagonist in Madonnas picaresque directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom. Played by Eugene Htz, the Ukrainian lead singer of gypsy punk act Gogol Bordello, A.K. swaggers through London, funding his dream of rock superstardom by aiding a blind professor and spanking horny businessmen as a role-playing hustler.
He is not alone in his bohemian quest: One of his flatmates, the pill-popping Juliette (Vicky McClure), pockets medicine from her pharmacy job and hopes to one day run off to Africa to help needy children (Madonnas not-so-subtle activist plug). Meanwhile, his other flatmate and love interest, Holly (Holly Weston), studies ballet while moonlighting as a pole-dancer (to songs like Madonnas Erotica, naturally).
But it is Htzs goofily mustachioed A.K., flipping from whip-happy neo-Nazi to raunchy headmaster to shabby cross-dresser, who delivers, showing that steadfast optimism -- with a splash of debauchery -- can actually pay off. After all, as he declares in the film, If you want to reach the sky, fuck a duck and hope to fly.
Filth and Wisdom opens in theaters October 17.Send a letter to the editor about this article.