Helen (Carla Juri) is a young woman who is here to tell you about her haemorrhoids. It’s an embarrassing problem, especially as she thinks it’s the sort of issue old men get and not females her age, but she’s had them as long as she can remember and now thinks she’s stuck with them. She does treat them with special cream which she administers whenever possible, including when she is in the filthiest public toilet she can find, for she likes to rub her vagina onto the worst lavatory seats possible to make it all the riper with the sort of bacteria that can offer her a particular aroma. Not only does this defy her mother's advice, she also believes this is what is necessary to attract men, as if there’s one thing that obsesses her more than her body parts, it’s sex…
You could observe that’s more or less the same thing, but what Wetlands set out to do if you accepted the word of many commentators was to make the audience’s gorge rise at the antics the unhygienic heroine got up to, so naturally a bunch of bodily functions that would not be brought up in polite conversation were an ideal way to disgust. However, there was a sense that those who dismissed the film as a parade of revulsion were selling it short, as indicated by a scene early on as Helen goes into one of her reminiscences about her life up to that point: she recalls her standing on top of a wall with her mother (Meret Becker) encouraging her to jump into her waiting arms.
And then when the little Helen does jump, her mother steps out of the way and allows the girl to fall onto the ground and hurt her knee. This is a life lesson, says the parent, that she shouldn’t trust anyone, thereby strongly hinting that the source of our narrator’s troubles may not be her own choices but her mother’s, and the older woman has passed on her neurosis to the younger one, and possibly Helen’s brother Toni (Ludger Bökelmann) into the bargain. And what of her father (Axel Milberg)? When we catch up with the family, he has been divorced from his wife for some time, the marriage was never a happy one, yet curiously Helen is convinced that should they get back together she personally would be a lot more content.
The further this goes on, the further we are pointed to regard the mother as the villain of the piece, though she is prey to her own mental instability as her mother was before her, and so on, back into time. Helen mentions almost in passing that to break the cycle she has had herself sterilised, which when that information comes in amongst a welter of detail about her anal problems is nearly overlooked, yet should you stop to think about it, sounds not only drastic but also verging on the needlessly tragic. Still, she exhibits such a happy-go-lucky demeanour that it’s a little too easy to dismiss the more serious aspects of what was supposed to be a comedy, albeit a comedy that invited you to cringe and wince at the explicitly unpleasant occurrences Helen encounters.
The main one, the one which puts her in hospital, is when she is shaving her anus and manages to cut a fissure in it, which can have dire consequences and that is how this plays out as she must now have an operation to stop the bleeding. If this sounds like the last thing in a million years you’d want to watch, then it was probably best avoided; though not as graphic as it could have been as far as the imagery went, Helen leaves us in no doubt as to what was happening to her and indeed appears to delight in going into as many of the specifics as possible. While she is there, she falls for a junior doctor called Robin (Christoph Letkowski) who has split up recently with a far more socially acceptable nurse, but can he see past the blood and gore and bottom drawbacks to see the charming girl Helen thinks she is? As this wore on, the tone grew grimmer, with her rejecting sweet best friend Corinna (Marlen Kruse), and here’s where an oddly conservative aspect arose, with Helen’s quirks explained away by past abuse of a sort (though not sexual) rather than simply being eccentric. A shame, because it did mean it ultimately wasn’t all that funny. Music by Ennis Rotthoff.