Wetlands (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)
Updated: Apr 24
Starring Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse, Meret Becker, Axel Milberg, Peri Baumeister, Edgar Selge, Harry Baer, Edgar Selge, Clara Wunsch, Ludger Bökelmann, Bernardo Arias Porras, Selam Tadese and Pia Röver.
Screenplay by David Wnendt and Claus Falkenberg.
Directed by David Wnendt.
Distributed by Strand Releasing. 105 minutes. Not Rated.
There is nothing new about making films about the sexual awakenings of young girls – particularly in Europe. This one is a bit different than many, just because it does not romanticize sex at all. The sex that our young heroine is interested in is much more scatological than sensual, as you may pick up by the all too accurate film title.
Wetlands is not a film for the squeamish or the sexually tame. The heroine, and therefore this film, appears to be mostly attracted to all sorts of fluids: water, saliva, blood, alcohol, sperm, urine, feces, vomit, vaginal secretions, even amniotic fluids.
Honestly, it’s one of the least sexy films about sex you’re likely to see, unless you share certain kinks with its protagonist. Which does not, oddly, make it a film that isn’t strangely worthy of seeing. There were moments in Wetlands that made me feel hinky, even occasionally overt my eyes (and I am not a squeamish person), but the film also paints an interesting picture of some rather unsavory people.
I may not want to spend time hanging with them, but they do have some interesting quirks which may be worth observing from the distance of a theater seat.
Besides, any film that not once, but several times, compares a vagina to a cooked fowl has a very strong point of view, whether you agree with it or not.
This kind of sexual awakening film appears to be all the rage in Eastern Europe – in recent years films like Nymphomaniac, Turn Me On Dammit, Somersault and several others have trod similar thematic ground. (I’m not sure what exactly it says about Wetlands that only Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac was even more detached from its sexuality than this one.)
Sex is treated clinically here. It is not so much a source of pleasure as a refuge from pain, sometimes it even purposely exacerbates that pain.
The lead character is Helen – bravely played by Carla Juri as a character with almost no filters – a tomboyish German teen who is rebelling against her uptight religious mother’s hygiene teachings. She decides to turn herself into a human petri dish, conducting what she calls a “living-pussy-hygiene experiment.” This experiment includes (but is not limited to) almost never changing her panties, trading used tampons with her best friend, rubbing herself over filthy public bathroom stalls, masturbating with vegetables. And, of course, having sex with as many people as she possibly can.
We never quite know what has brought out this masochistic streak in her – although we do see flashbacks of unhappy childhood and the film also integrates a frankly uncharacteristic Parent Trap-gone-bad subplot of her trying to reunite her estranged divorced parents.
When she injures herself trying to shave her anus around her long-term case of hemorrhoids (you can’t make this stuff up, in fact, I wish they hadn’t), she ends up having to have surgery and stuck in the hospital for a while. However, there is a cute nurse (Christoph Letkowski) taking care of her, so she acts sicker than she really is, all the time trying with little to no subtlety to seduce him.
All of which kind of makes you wonder about Helen. And, honestly, one act she performs towards the end, where she nearly kills herself in the vain hope of getting her parents back together, really makes you worry for Helen’s mental stability.
As the film winds down to as close to a happy ending as it is likely to get, you have to admit that while Wetlands is not nearly as titillating as it thinks it is, the film is somewhat intriguing in its own offbeat way. You certainly have never seen anything like it, and you’re not likely to again anytime soon.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 12, 2014.
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