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Thursday, September 4, 2014


Carla Juri
Courtesy of Strand Releasing
2014, 109 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

David Wnendt's Wetlands has earned quite the reputation over the past few months, especially after its Sundance premiere.  It's been called such adjectives as perverse and gross, and let me say that those are understatements.  I've seen many films called the nastiest ever (A Serbian Film, Pink Flamingos, Antichrist, etc.), but none have ever made me want to gag like this one.  Yet, while this film is truly disgusting, it's a genuinely touching and honest coming-of-age film that prides itself on being different.

The film tells the story of Helen (Carla Juri in a standout performance), a teen who has a very, shall we say, unique approach to hygiene.  One day, she goes to the hospital because of an anal fissure...and to tell you anymore would ruin the fun.

Wetlands prides itself on being filthy and bodily fluids of every kind and in every form are spread everywhere.  Carla Juri goes to town with the filthiness.  Everyone in this film seems deeply devoted to it.  In many ways, Wetlands is very much like a '70s John Waters film that's well-made and very honest.  However, the nastiness isn't just there for shock value, like Pink Flamingos.  Wnendt has far more on his mind than pure shock.  With Wetlands, he creates a portrait of a girl experimenting with her body because she's struggling to come of age.

Juri is spectacular as Helen.  Despite the raunch, she's remarkably charming and carries the entire film alone.  Most importantly, she makes us care about Helen.

Overall, Wetlands is a true original.  I started to lose interest near the last third because of how front-loaded the film is.  Wetlands is shocking from the second it starts, but never climaxes with anything that tops the shocks that it starts with.  That being said, I was invested in Wetlands for the majority of its running time and can't wait to see what David Wnendt directs next.  He's a major talent that I'll be watching for now on.


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