2014 SXSW Review: WETLANDS

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Certainly not for the squeamish, this graphic and sometimes disgusting romantic comedy from Germany takes shocking gross-out humor (similar to that of Trainspotting) to the extreme. Carla Juri stars as Helen Memel, a rebellious young lady, relishes in shocking her divorced parents and anyone she can with her unfiltered language and her nearly nauseating lack of personal hygiene.  When Helen ends up in the hospital, she takes this opportunity to attempt to reunite her parents and romantically pursues her male nurse Robin (Christoph Letkowski) while becoming infamous in the hospital for her shocking behavior.

While I’m not usually very squeamish when it comes to gore and bodily function depictions in movies, I found this film often difficult to watch. Even though Wetlands does offer much likable and hilarious humor, writer/director David Wnedt and his co-writer Claus Falkenberg often go too far with disgusting shocks, making the overall experience difficult to stomach.  The main character does have her charm when speaking unfiltered and does show some lovely vulnerabilities; however, some of her revolting behavior and practices make it difficult for me to completely fall for her.  As a result, I found it a bit incredulous that someone could actually fall in love with her despite her physical beauty and sometimes charming wit.

At its heart, the film falls into the romantic comedy category, but towards the end, the story takes a slightly dark and disturbing turn indicating that the Helen character has some deep seeded issues that need addressing. Helen’s behavior obviously cries out for help and attention, probably due to her parents’ issues. This gets glossed over and never completely resolved. I’m probably being generous in giving the film a three star rating, but I did find myself often entertained and laughing heartily whenever I wasn’t cringing in my seat or covering my eyes when things went too far.

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