Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Film #27: Feuchtgebiete / Wetlands

Released: 2013 
Directed by: David Wnendt 

This weekend, I watched a film that hasn’t yet been released with subtitles, but apparently will be soon. Based on the novel by Charlotte Roche (translated into English by Tim Mohr), Wetlands is definitely not for the faint-hearted. 

The plot is fairly basic: 18-year-old Helen (Carla Juri) is admitted to hospital after doing herself an intimate injury with a razor. While recovering from her operation, she becomes infatuated with one of the hospital wardens, recounts her psychologically damaging childhood and explains her philosophy on life: personal hygiene is overrated, and all sexual activities and illegal drugs are worth trying at least once. 

Accordingly, the film is very explicit in its sex, nudity and drug-taking. Having read the book a few years ago, I knew roughly what to expect. Many readers accused the book of having no literary merit and being designed simply to shock. Due to its visual nature, I personally found the film more shocking than the book. A couple of sections made me feel queasy, and one moment in particular really made me wince. 

It’s tempting to dismiss the film – as many people did the book – of merely aiming to provoke a disgusted reaction. But there are hints throughout of why Helen acts this way, and some of the scenes involving her mother are more shocking than any of her sexual proclivities. Carla Juri does a great job of conveying this blend of brashness and vulnerability. Ultimately, all this sexually confident extrovert wants is for her divorced parents to reconcile. 

Wetlands will definitely prove divisive among audiences, and I wouldn’t recommend watching it while eating, but it’s an interesting attempt at what many may have considered an unfilmable novel.

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