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Florida Film Festival: Wetlands

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How to review a movie like Wetlands? It is certainly a very good film with a courageous performance by lead actress Carla Juri. It also contains graphically gross and vile imagery that will make some in the audience giggle with transgressive glee but will send most people screaming from the theater. That the film's grotesquerie serves the story and the character will not matter to the ninety-five percent of the audience that will find this movie too extreme. For the small minority, I cannot help but recommend it.

There is very little of the plot that is fit to print, but I'll do my best. Carla Juri stars as Helen, a young woman with somewhat unique sexual proclivities and hygiene habits. An accident while shaving a rather sensitive region leaves her in the hospital in need of surgery. She narrates most of her story from her hospital bed, flashing back to her childhood and her relationship with her long divorced parents (Meret Becker and Axel Milburg). She hopes to bring her folks back together and plots to extend her stay in the hospital as long as possible, while also flirting with her hunky nurse Robin (Christoph Letkowski).

I'm barely scratching the surface of the story, but suffice it to say Helen familiarizes the audience, quite intimately, with her attitudes and habits when it comes to hygiene, sexuality, personal grooming, and public toilets. The film is extremely explicit, and in one instance downright pornographic. Without getting too graphic, the scene involves four men, a pizza, and something that Dr. Strangelove's General Ripper might have referred to as "our precious bodily fluids." That the scene in question also parodies the Blue Danube sequence from 2001 and is absolutely hilarious doesn't make it any less horrifying. And yes, I'm aware that I just made two Stanley Kubrick references.

There are a lot of "Oh God!" moments when you think there is no way director David Wnendt is going to cross the line and then he joyfully bounds right over it. I'd condemn it if all these moments existed solely for shock value, but everything that happens serves the purpose of showing us who Helen is and why she became this way (a lot of it has to do with her relationship with her mother, and to a lesser extent her father.) Carla Juri gets full credit for her fearless performance, and for making Helen completely sympathetic and relatable, despite her many issues. By the end I was surprised how invested I was in Helen as a character. If you're the type who can handle a movie like this, I recommend it. You know who you are.

Thus ends my last review from the Florida Film Festival. Thanks for bearing with me these last ten days, and be sure to read my other reviews from the fest here.