Director: David Wnendt
MPAA Rating: NR
[This is a repost of our review from Sundance 2014. Wetlands opens in select cities Friday.]
David Wnendt’s coming of age comedy Wetlands is not a movie to take your mother to although I would love to hear how it goes for those that do. Wetlands is one of the grossest films I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. Through all the bodily fluids and muck, there’s a surprisingly heartwarming story here, propelled by an outstanding performance from the film’s lead Carla Juri. She reminds me of Amelie, if Amelie was obsessed with sticking her hands into her crotch rather than boxes of beans.
Juri plays Helen, a young lady constantly experimenting on her own private parts, exploring the nature of the human body, and rebelling against the concept of hygiene. After a particularly horrific shaving mishap, Helen winds up in the hospital and begins falling for a male nurse. While in her hospital bed, we learn more about Helen, what makes her tick, and how she ended up the way she did. We discover Helen is hiding some dark secrets, and will need to confront them in order to achieve any type of normalcy.
From the opening credits, the audience is made fully aware that this is going to be a film that will test one’s stomach, with scene after scene of nauseating grossness. For the purposes of this review specific examples will be omitted, so as to not spoil just how revolting this film is. It certainly revels in this fact though, with a quote from the original novel’s author stating why this should never be adapted into a film. For those that felt Blue is the Warmest Color crossed the line, wait’ll they get a load of this bad boy. A comparison can also be drawn to the Norwegian film Turn Me On, Damnit, however Wetlands provides a much more entertaining and rewarding experience.
Beyond all the bodily fluids and shocking visuals, there lies a rich familial drama within Wetlands. As the story progresses the complexities of Helen and her family slowly boil to the surface to show how she developed into the woman she is, and why she has such idiosyncratic behavior.
With great visuals, a great soundtrack, and outrageously shocking content, Wetlands is one of the best German comedies I’ve ever seen. Granted, I can’t think of any other German comedies I’ve seen, but this is still a recommended watch. It’s worth seeing simply to witness how far German cinema can go without crossing the line into pure smut.
Be sure to click here for all out Sundance 2014 Coverage.