January 31, 2015


Wetlands attempts to be a provocative coming of age film of a young German girl and her flaunting sexuality. It’s best to understand the cultural context where the Germans are probably the most sexually comfortable people on the planet, who allow prostitution freely. So it’s not to say that the filmmakers are trying to stab at a typical American conservative that is reserved and ashamed at their nakedness. Regardless, it still tries to make an end in itself the comfort the girl has at being sexually explicit without making an effort to signify why she is that way, i.e. what made her into this voracious sexual creature?


What is the point of the film anyhow? Beyond the retelling of her issues with hemorrhoids and an anal shaving accident because her sexual decorum requires her to be shaved in all the right places, it tries to examine her upbringing in a home that became broken and that which she vaguely hopes to reconcile. I say vaguely because her only effort is to have her divorced parents run into each other while she is recuperating at the hospital after the accident. The narrative, however, is stitched together without much thought beyond entertaining vignettes of her narrow-minded lifestyle.


There is a glimmer of truth when it appears that her entire sexual carnivorousness is a cry for help – it is an act of desperation in trying to be loved. Being physically adored by the opposite sex is a substitute for the lack of concern her father has for her, and for their family for that matter. Isn’t this a generalization though, that little girls need their daddies and without them they turn into sluts as they seek male validation? A generalization does not make it less true, however. And what we can see is this fact, as she doesn’t even know what her father does for a living well into her teenage years.


It is uneventful and disappointing then that all of the eccentricities of the film circle around a stereotypical disposition of a teenage girl that is lost and needs a strong male figure in her life. I say disappointing because there isn’t much the film says beyond that. It is routine I suppose for the continual dispossession of masculinity in the decadent West, which creates such Peter Pans as the father who could care less whether he is involved in his daughter’s life or not, and the mediocrity of a teenage girl having another baby out of wedlock. We can appreciate then Wetlands as a commentary on the decline of Patriarchy, which amusingly Feminism still bemoans as thriving and kicking, despite the candor the girl has with sex, and the feebleness that are the male supporting characters. A vivacious patriarchal culture in other words does not create such girls who are lost and can only find meaning in giving up their bodies to whoever has the faintest of interest. It imposes upon them self-worth that is beyond lasciviousness into the intangible realm of human existence – the spiritual.


Grade: B-



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