Film review: WETLANDS, from Built For Speed (This film is R-rated)

German film Wetlands is the strangest and most provocative film so far this year.  A bizarre journey into confused sexuality and childhood trauma, this film features some of the most confronting scenes we’re likely to witness on a cinema screen. Every bodily fluid is emitted and smeared across the screen while every body part is waved, shaved poked, prodded and much worse in scenes that had my preview audience gasping and shrieking more than the first people to witness the stomach burster scene from Alien.

There’s little plot to speak of as the film simply focuses on the bizarre experiences of a disturbed young woman named Helen (Carla Juri). Her life seems to revolve around skateboarding, sexual experimentation with men, women, metallic objects and assorted vegetables and obsessing over her chronic haemorrhoids. Her anal fixation results in a very strange shaving accident that lands her in hospital where she begins to recall the strange and unsettling events that shaped her character.

As it leaps from dreams to fractured memories to drug benders to sexual fantasies as well as Helen’s unsettlingly unhygienic everyday behaviour, the film revels in confronting hallucinogenic images that recall and even out-weird Trainspotting.

While it touches on issues of family breakdown, sexual identity and post-natal depression, the film’s fragmented style never permits it to explore these concerns in great depth.  Eventually, the film’s plotlessness becomes a little dull while its late left turn into conventional romantic comedy jars badly. 

Still, the characters are undeniably memorable. Juri is remarkable as Helen, shifting from amusingly playful to contemptible and infuriating to deeply sad.  As Helen’s Mother, Meret Becker is an intense and unsettling presence and yet a strangely comical one particularly when she gives Helen a copy of Rosemary’s Baby for her eighth birthday.  Marlen Kruse also impresses as Helen’s long-suffering friend Corinna.

Some audiences will be horrified by this film, some will find it hilarious and some will revel in its bravura attitude and acid-trip stylings. Few will forget this film and no one will buy a pizza afterwards.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Comedy /Drama.

Classification: R.

Director(s): David Wnendt.

Release date: 4th September 2014

Running time: 105 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 


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