Movie Review - Wetlands

I went and saw this German film during its one-week run in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 13. Outside the theater, the Ritz Bourse, there was a printed message on the poster that reinforced the fact that due to its content, no one under 18 would be allowed in to see this movie. I assume that this warning has to do with all the blunt sexuality, but I don't recall seeing such a printed message for Stranger By the Lake, which I also saw at the Ritz Bourse. I assume that it also has to do with all the gross and in-your-face, toilet humor, except there's nothing here that the Farrelly brothers or the Wayans brothers haven't done. There are some things here that might make John Waters blush, but he wouldn't be too surprised by director David Wnendt's work.

After the movie was over, I got into a bit of an argument in front of the box office with a couple who had also just seen this film. The couple was trying to dissuade another woman from seeing it, while making comparisons to Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Both films are coming-of-age stories. Both are about teenagers of divorced parents. Yet, this film provides a female experience and point-of-view rarely seen on the big screen.

It's the version of Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac that I wish he made. It's as funny and subversive as any Todd Solondz or Pedro Almodovar movie. Yet, it's wildly more entertaining and heartfelt. There are plenty of moments that will disgust, make you squirm and even physically be repulsed or want to turn your head. Unlike the graphic sexuality and the blood and gore in other, more mainstream movies, the sex and blood in this film packs a stronger punch.

Carla Juri stars as Helen, a teenage girl who skateboards, loves punk rock music and sex. She's also a rebel. She's not an anarchist but there are certain rules, which she refuses to obey on occasion. A lot of those certain rules are about hygiene, particularly hygiene in regard to her pubic and anal area. For example, she doesn't wash her hand after a hand job. She revels in bodily fluids, male or female in origin.

The filmmaker makes Helen the narrator, so the movie isn't just about a punk rock, sex-obsessed, hygiene-challenged, sardonic girl. The movie is itself a punk rock, sex-obsessed, hygiene-challenged, sardonic film. The clear example is in the opening shot. It invokes what this film is about without actually showing it. Helen's sex-escapades lead to her being hospitalized for extreme hemorrhoids.

There is an animated sequence that riffs on a Listerine commercial, depicting germs as scary monsters, but the movie cuts to a live-action shot that grossly cuddles up to them. Based on the novel Feuchtgebiete by Charlotte Roche, there's a lot of inherent humor, but Wnendt crafts great visual gags. Many hilarious moments come from the editing. A religious montage is an example of the number of edits being comedic, but like Park Chan Wook, how Wnendt chooses to edit his transitions is funny as well. This movie also has one of the most laugh-out-loud, car accidents with Helen's mom, playing off a common, motherly platitude.

Despite her dirty deeds, Helen is a beautiful girl, as Juri is a beautiful girl. Yet, so is the entire cast. Helen's friend, Corinna, played by Marlen Kruse, as well as Helen's various love interests, including Kanell, the black "spelunker," played by Selam Tadese, and Robin, the male nurse, played by actor-musician Christoph Letkowski, are all attractive, interesting and charming.

This is the craziest and funniest movie I've seen all year. As soon as I saw it, it immediately became my number one of 2014. It's tops not just because of the sick and outrageous humor like a pizza rape fantasy that is jaw-droppingly insane and pornographic, but also because the movie has such empathy and unexpected warmth. Taking the sweet with the sour, the nasty with the nice, is the essence of life and of certainly this film.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains full frontal male and female nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 mins.


Popular Posts