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Alex van Warmerdam
Alex van Warmerdam,
The eccentric 18 year-old Helen narrates the story of her life, including stories about her preferred sexual practices that involve vegetables, her attitude towards hygiene, drugs, her best friend Corinna and her challenging childhood. The frame story takes place in a hospital where she is treated because of an anal fissure. During her stay she plans to reunite her divorced parents and falls in love with the male nurse Robin.Written by
The news clip on television that Helen, as a child, is watching with her father and mother, is of the so called Enschede fireworks disaster, which was on May 13th, 2000 and the actual footage was made by Danny de Vries. See more »
You Love It
Music and text: Merrill Nisker, which is the birth name of Peaches
Performed by: Peaches
Publisher: KMG Germany
[Played during the opening scene] See more »
A Gross-Out Rom Com With A Surprising Amount of Heart
Wetlands is the kind of movie where things like jizz-covered pizzas, anal tearings, vegetable-based masturbation, purposeful vaginal dirtying, and other taboos are thrown into our face and someone, most likely David Wnendt, wants us to accept the graphic vulgarity like we accepted There's Something About Mary or one of those eye-roll inducing Hangover films. Wetlands dares to call itself a romantic comedy, a coming-of-age story, a family drama, and a gross-out assembly line, and if it were written by someone like Seth Rogen then maybe, just maybe, it would have turned into a sh*t covered disaster. But under Wnendt's authority, it's likable, even if much of it is frustrating. It goes through stretches where it's earnest, legitimately touching, but it also has a tendency to turn around the next minute and tell us about another bodily dysfunction that we'd rather not hear about when we're eating. Part of me wishes it was dirty like a 1960s sex comedy, provocative but not overtly so. But Wetlands can be so appallingly gross that any form of realness seem to be covered in some STDs you caught from a smelly hippie down the street.
At the center of the filth is Helen Memel (Carla Juri), a sexually rambunctious 18-year-old who spends her free time exploring her body in the most disgusting ways imaginable. In the opening alone, a barefoot Helen attends an underground public bathroom so repulsive that it makes a backwoods 7-11 restroom seem pristine. And, as if things couldn't get any more nauseating, she decides to rub herself around the oh, never mind. Just discussing it makes me shudder.
The film continues in a series of revolting events that seem more NC-17 than cutely edgy, climaxing when Helen accidentally tears her anus (yes, her anus) while hastily shaving. When she finds herself in the hospital for surgery, she cooks up a foolproof plot: as the daughter of divorced parents, she wants nothing more than to get them back together, so why not stage a reconciliation during visiting hours? To Helen, it's ingenious. To us, the thought is depressing, to say the least. But a blossoming romance with a male nurse (Christoph Letkowski) promises better things to come in a world where sexual experimentation is the only source of feeling.
Wetlands is kinda sorta scatterbrained; who knew a movie could transform from a gross-out comedy into a melancholic drama? The best parts of the film, which are (1) the last thirty-minutes and (2) the melancholic drama components, are really, really good; finally, the gags end and deal with Helen as a human instead of an icky caricature. We're given an explanation as to why she is the way she is, and what we find out is gut- punchingly sad — yet it doesn't fit. I can understand her position (ex.: does horrifying things to her body to numb the pains of reality), but I don't understand why the film has to show what she does and what she fantasizes about with such explicit detail. I guess it's meant to shock, but the film is far too well-made to merely act as an exploitation movie. Wetlands covers several genres, and they all work wonderfully; problem is, there's always a slutty cousin wandering about in the background haunting any hint of authenticity. For many films, the level of wildness in a dirty joke can be a calling card (a la American Pie's pie, There's Something About Mary's "hair gel"), but in Wetlands, a dirty joke — scratch that, a dirty image, is a major weakness.
But if you can stomach the vileness of it all, the film is more sweet than it is sickening. There are truly funny moments, and there are affecting moments too. As a coming-of-age drama, its ballsiness is refreshing. And Juri, a combination of Greta Gerwig, Run Lola Run era Franka Potente, and a young Cécile de France, may as well already be a star. With my last impression of Wetlands being that of the earlier mentioned "melancholic drama", though, it must have done something right, despite being one of the most disgusting films I've ever seen. And that's saying something, considering it travels through the microscopic world of a pubic hair within its first few minutes like it's a roller coaster ride.
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