Dir: David Wnendt
The controversial best seller by the British German TV personality Charlotte Roche is adapted by David Wnendt into this gross out love story about an 18 year old misfit whose rebellion against her own personal hygiene eventually lands her in a hospital proctology ward. Certainly not from the squeamish, Wetlands plays like John Waters and Harmony Korine taking a shot at a Farrelly Brothers film and though the shock value often borders on gimmickry, there’s a brilliant performance by Carla Juri as Helen to focus on if it all gets a bit too much.
The influence of Helen’s clean freak mother (Meret Becker) and sex fiend father (Axel Milberg) is apparent and damaging early on; Her mother purposely failing to catch her as she jumps off a large garden wall. “Don’t trust anyone, not even your parents. A little pain now is better than a life of heartbreak.” she tells Helen in between one of many flashbacks in the first half of the film. The new gleefully promiscuious Helen spends her days doing unspeakable things with vegetables before returning them to the fridge, taking care of her hemorrhoids, wiping down toilet seats with her lady parts, tampon swapping and taking all manner of class A’s with her next door neighbour and best friend.
During her “shaving mishap” visit to the hospital she meets a male nurse (Christoph Letkowski) after her operation and Wetlands eases back ever so slightly on the vulgarity for long enough to almost become a love story; The bed ridden patient and the handsome nurse. It’s slightly too little too late however and by the time we wander through dream sequences and Nymphomanic like side notes to get to Helen’s reason for ordering a pizza from the same place over and over again, Juri’s acting may have won us over but Helen and the film hasn’t quite.
Heavily and often incredibly explicit, Wetlands certainly presents an interesting and unique expression of female sexual liberation and for that it has to be praised. Helen is never sorry, always charming, never tearful and always raging; Juri is absolutely brilliant. In the end when all of the bodily fluids have been mopped up it’s a brave and unapologetic portrait of a firecracker character whose bravado hides another painful secret; One which can’t be solved by a proctologist.