5.0 1
Director: David Wnendt, Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker

Cast: David Wnendt, Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker


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Helen Memel (Carla Juri) is one troubled soul. The product of severe emotional abuse early in life, she developed weird, OCD-like attitudes toward sex and cleanliness as an adolescent, and began to harbor serious issues involving trust. As a young woman, she rebelled against the repression that she knew as a youngster, by engaging in


Helen Memel (Carla Juri) is one troubled soul. The product of severe emotional abuse early in life, she developed weird, OCD-like attitudes toward sex and cleanliness as an adolescent, and began to harbor serious issues involving trust. As a young woman, she rebelled against the repression that she knew as a youngster, by engaging in unconventional sexual activity such as onanism with vegetables, and practicing horrible scatological acts, such as barefoot strolls through raw sewage, and direct exposure to filthy public toilet seats. When Helen clumsily attempts to shave her nether regions, she ends up with a serious injury and must be hospitalized; bedridden, she begins to reflect on her wild and colorful life and sexual history. Meanwhile, she also develops feelings for a male nurse in the hospital (Christoph Letkowski), though it remains unclear if she has the stability necessary to get out of her predicament and make the relationship work.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Helen Memel (Carla Juri), the protagonist of German director David Wnendt's Wetlands, is a wild, sexually voracious woman in her early 20s who has developed alarming scatological obsessions, fixating over bacteria and bodily fluids. Her severely dysfunctional, neurotic parents ruined her by depriving her of healthy affection and instilling her with bizarre attitudes toward sex during childhood. As a teen and adult, she began to systematically rebel against her folks (and society as a whole) by engaging in activities that most of us would find repulsive - wading barefoot through excrement and urine-filled subway stations, writhing around in filthy public urinals, performing bizarre sexual "experiments" with foreign objects such as produce, and taking on an endless array of bedmates, some of whom preferred stimula far weirder than traditional intercourse. As the story opens, Helen has a bloody accident while shaving and winds up in the hospital with a fissure on her anus. While recovering, she begins to reflect on her self-destructive depravity, from childhood on - experiences depicted via an endless number of flashbacks and dream and fantasy sequences. Working from a controversial bestselling novel by Charlotte Roche, Wnendt and scriptwriter Claus Falkenberg approach this extreme material as a sardonic arthouse shocker - an impudent seriocomedy laden with a nonstop barrage of gross-out setpieces that would make the Farrelly Brothers blush - most of them, at least for the first hour, played for laughs. The filmmakers never really set up an actual joke; instead, they attempt to get by on embarrassment alone, much of it conveyed not with explicit visual detail, but on the soundtrack. The effect is not unlike what Hitchcock brought off in the shower scene of Psycho - Wnendt gets us to imagine far more than what is actually present on camera. For instance, he sets up a scene where a pus-filled blister on Carla's rectum bursts open and squirts an examining physician in the eye - but we never actually see the wound, merely hear the awful noise and glimpse the result. The movie is filled with yocks like this, and for about 45 minutes, you find yourself laughing at the director's sheer audacity - as in an ingeniously conceived opening sequence that uses CG animation to journey inside the microbial netherworld of a grody toilet seat. Wnendt depicts the vermin as a series of psychedelic creatures swarming around and devouring one another, with hundreds of razor-sharp teeth and snapping jaws. The movie also succeeds for a time when it cross-sections Helen's psyche. The filmmakers give us a window into the roots of her dysfunction, dramatizing (and in some cases, playing ironically) the child abuse that effectively destroyed her sanity as a little girl and adolescent. The filthy, rude humor and the underlying revelations work hand-in-hand, and we start to get a bifurcated glimpse of this troubled individual - suddenly grasping how she remained a malevolent, crass little girl into adulthood, a warped woman-child who gets her kicks from horrifying anyone who crosses her path. No complaints here about the basic conceit, but after an hour or so, the film really starts to drag. It repeats the said insights about Helen ad infinitum, in dozens of different variations and capacities, and you realize at some point that the narrative isn't building. One is reminded of John Guare's cutting insight to Louis Malle after a screening of Pretty Baby: "Louis, it's a shame you didn't work with a writer on this picture; it could have been good." The same criticism applies here: though Wnendt's direction is imaginative and artful, for much of its second hour the film seems totally aimless, as if Wnendt and Falkenberg set up the character of Helen and had no idea how to arc her, no sense of how to drive the story forward. Then the picture degenerates from boring to infuriating in the final 15 or 20 minutes; it grows unreasonably cruel and nasty, culminating with Helen's decision to commit a heartbreaking (and gory, and disgusting) act of mutilation against her own body. And then, somehow, without any sort of credible logic connecting the scenes, the filmmakers take this young woman who is thoroughly deranged and suicidal, and give her an improbable, ridiculous happy ending. If they had followed the story along its natural course, she would almost certainly have killed herself. The one saving grace in this picture is Juri - a vibrant, courageous young actress with a decade of work behind her. She has a freshness and a vitality that are rare among movie stars of her age, and the sort of pulchritude and bearing that could make any young man fall head-over-heels in love with her. Wnendt's major predecessor in the realm of button-pushing scat comedy is the Yugoslavian maverick Dusan Makavejev, who with his 1974 Sweet Movie set the standard for this kind of thing. There are stories about the Cannes press screening of Sweet Movie completely emptying out, except for a few devoted filmgoers engrossed and amused enough to stick it through. Watching Wetlands with these anecdotes in your mind, you want to give the movie the same sort of tenacity and commitment as the Makavejev viewers, but it doesn't really work, because the film peters out as soon as its formula becomes apparent. The difference with Makavejev is that he was clever, random and inventive enough with his narrative structure that you literally had no idea where the movie would end up, which kept you involved; in other words, the film had something deeper to offer beneath its shocks, and you couldn't help but feel that Makavejev was working toward something big and profound, with his Reichian philosophical undercurrents. Here you grasp the point rather quickly and eventually start groaning at the sophomoric hijinx and getting a headache.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Strand Home Video
Sales rank:

Special Features

Alternate artwork; Original theatrical trailer; Pink-band trailer; International trailer; Other strand trailers

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Carla Juri Helen Memel
Christoph Letkowski Robin
Meret Becker Helen's Mother
Axel Milberg Helen's Father
Marlen Kruse Corinna
Edgar Selge Dr. Notz
Peri Baumeister Sister Valerie
Clara Wunsch Helen - 8 years
Ludger Bokelmann Toni
Bernardo Porras Michael
Selam Tadese Kanell
Pia Röver New Girlfriend
Harry Baer New Friend
Merlin Rose Boy at Chip Stand
Florian Rummel Drummer
Anna König Marleen - Red-Haired Prostitute
Kathrin Wehlisch Madam
Ramona Kunze-Libnow Woman in Supermarket
Christian Natter Pizza Guy
Monika Obmalko Frederike - Pizza Girl
Amelie Plaas-Link Cordelia - Pizza Girl

Technical Credits
David Wnendt Director,Screenwriter
Kathleen Döbbel Asst. Director
Jakub Bejnarowicz Cinematographer
Claus Falkenberg Screenwriter
Heino Herrenbrueck Production Manager
Johanna Hinsch Makeup
Ulrike Müller Casting
Paul Rischer Sound Mixer,Sound/Sound Designer
Jenny Roesler Production Designer
Peter Rommel Producer
Inga Ross Makeup Special Effects
Enis Rotthoff Score Composer
Elke von Sivers Costumes/Costume Designer
Daniel Weis Sound Editor
Andreas Wodraschke Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Wetlands
1. Scene 1 [12:58]
2. Scene 2 [12:18]
3. Scene 3 [14:58]
4. Scene 4 [5:29]
5. Scene 5 [:15]
6. Scene 6 [:14]
7. Scene 7 [:14]
8. Scene 8 [:15]


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Wetlands 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
I started eating lunch and simultaneously pushed PLAY; that was a mistake. This is the type of movie you could dare a friend to watch, if you were sadistic enough. As the Amazon Reviewer suggested, I will look for SWEET MOVIE (1974) to get a better "button-pushing scat comedy" with "Reichian" philosopy. Lucky for me, in the future. Meanwhile, I loved WETLANDS for starting off with a nasty and hilarious parody of the grand-tree-of-life microscope-view opening to Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS. A later nod to 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY nearly killed me. And I was eating pizza. The really impressive thing about this subtitled German movie is the director's ability to get amazing actors to play in a female-GONE-insane version of BOYHOOD somehow mated with GONE GIRL, and in a few cases the parents of the kids allowed. I will not wait for the Disney cartoon version, or for WETLANDS to play on American TV, even HBO. Meanwhile, I haven't squinted or put my hands over my eyes this much since JAWS. But I was warned by the front cover that it is NSFW (Not Suitable For Work), so I have no excuse. It has pheromones I did not know I had receptors for. The female stars are beautiful: just don't watch when your spouse or parents are home. The Human Race has been indited for Child Abuse. Guilty as charged.