Girls behave very, very grossly in Wetlands, a German coming-of-age saga doused in blood, spit, and more sexually explicit excretions.
David Wnendt’s adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s 2008 novel is an aesthetically amped-up affair, full of segmented screens, oversaturated colors, trippy special effects, and drugged-out flashbacks and dream sequences that embellish the story of Helen (Carla Juri) and her “living-pussy-hygiene experiment.”
That ongoing research involves wiping her genitals on dirty toilet seats, sharing homemade tampons with her boarding-school best friend Corinna (Marlen Kruse), and crudely shaving her hemorrhoids — the last of which lands her in the hospital, where surgery is soon required to remove part of her anus.
Stuck in bed, Helen attempts to woo a nurse named Robin (Christoph Letkowski) with raunchy tales of whores and mass pizzaman masturbation — all of it visualized in over-the-top graphic fashion by Wnendt — while also trying, through her infirm circumstances, to reunite her divorced parents (Meret Becker and Axel Milberg).
This last aim makes clear that Helen’s extreme behavior is at once a reaction to, and rebellion against, her mother and father (and their separation), which, along with a captivating go-for-broke lead turn by Juri, lends the film a poignancy to help offset the juvenile shock-tactic impulses.