Impossibly arty and, at times, narratively incoherent, Filth and Wisdom still has its goofy charms. A.K. shares a London flat with two women - Holly (Holly Weston), a broke ballet dancer, and Juliette (Vicky McClure), a pharmacist's assistant. The handsome trio hang about the kitchen table lamenting their poverty, their dashed dreams. A.K. suggests that Holly use her body to make money - i.e., become a stripper. Juliette, meanwhile, is busy stealing drugs from her unhappily married and lusting-after-her boss (Inder Manocha). Not for her own use, mind you, but to take the meds to Africa, where she hopes one day to help the sick and starving children.
Pole-dancing, bondage, African orphans, the lure of money . . . Filth and Wisdom represents a veritable compendium of the themes and shtick that have defined Madonna-the-pop-star all these years.
Hutz, the lead singer of the rockin' band Gogol Bordello, has charisma to burn, which is a good thing, because as lovely as Weston and McClure are, their respective performances aren't deep.
Cringingly awful, however, is Richard E. Grant as a blind, washed-up poet who lives downstairs, or next door (yes, there's a continuity problem), and is read to and regaled by A.K. on occasion. Full of music video-ish montages and moments when A.K. feels compelled to say, "In my country, we have a saying . . . ," Filth and Wisdom isn't really all that filthy, nor wise. But it isn't dull, either.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.