Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Looking for a groundbreakingly transgressive motion picture? Try David Wnendt's WETLANDS

Whew! It's been awhile since we've seen anything quite like this one. From the opening scene -- in which the movie's heroine, Helen, who has terribly trying hemorrhoids, takes us down to an underground bathroom where fetid water and overflowing toilets skeeve us out -- the new movie WETLANDS, directed by David Wnendt, will almost immediately takes pride of place in our list of in-your-face, don't-see-'em-that-often, super-transgressive films. And it is, for much of its 105 minute running time, one hell of a lot of fun.

Mr. Wnendt, who also co-wrote the screenplay with help from Claus Falkenberg and Sabine Pochhammer, adapted from the novel by actress/writer Charlotte Roche, sees to it that we are almost immediately swept up in one of the most bizarrely entrancing scenes ever created of bacteria -- seen so up-close-and-personal that it's like we're in some updated remake of Fantastic Voyage. Then we settle down to really learning who our heroine is, what she wants and how she dreams and schemes and manages to get it.

Helen is played by an actress new to me, Carla Juri (above), but her performance is so indelible that I can't imagine we won't be seeing more of her (though, in terms of nudity and flesh, there's little you won't have seen by the end of this film).

Ms Juri is absolutely beautiful, that's for sure. But if her performance were not so rich and spiky and alternately nasty and lovely, the movie would not work even half as well as it does. Whether she is scratching one of those hemorrhoids (above) or being nicely serviced by a sudden and very attractive new boy-fuck (below), the actress makes her ever-alert and comic/near-tragic character one for the books.

Her parents split up when she was younger, and as do many children of divorce, she wants them back together at any price. Once her too intensive exploration of her nether regions gets her in some major physical trouble, she finds herself hospitalized -- which proves an almost too-perfect place for her various schemes to come to fruition.

Along the way, we meet her sweet best friend, Corinna (Marlen Kruse, above, left) and in the hospital, her ever-present and exceedingly helpful nurse turns out to be a gorgeous hunk named Robin (Christoph Letkowski, below, left). We also meet her mom and dad, both of whom prove as bad and bothersome as we might have expected, giving the grown daughter they've produced and badly raised.

Yet the filmmaker manages to properly share the blame here; even the smarmy adults have a redeeming moment or two -- including Helen's self-satisfied doctor (Edgar Selge, below), who gets a bit of a come-uppance, though in a manner that almost proves fatal to the giver. Wetlands finally wears out its welcome a bit sooner than we'd like. It's maybe 15 minutes too long, and ties up its loose ends too predictably. But boy, does it offer some fine, nasty fun (and hot, skeevy sex) along the way.

The movie, another good one from Strand Releasing, in German with English sub-titles, opens theatrically this Friday, September 5, here in NYC at the Angelika Film Center, and the following Friday, September 12 in Los Angeles at the Landmark NuArt and another six cities. Over the coming weeks it will play in around 25 locations across the country. You can see all of them, and their specific theaters, by clicking here.

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