Take a Drink: for childhood flashbacks
Take a Drink: for sex
Take a Drink: for anything that makes you cringe
Take a Drink: for religion
Take a Drink: whenever the anus is explicitly referred to
Do a Shot: for shaving accidents, toilet seats, and tampons
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
It’s easy to forget this late in the year, but the biggest arthouse news at the beginning of it was Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. The fact that a hardcore exploration of a woman’s sexuality featuring Shia LaBeouf anal and a seemingly half hour Jamie Bell spanking and ass-play scene from the mind of Lars Von Trier could already be forgotten shows how much it missed the mark.
Grownup Billy Elliot is fucked up
Nymphomaniac: Vol I started off well enough in its first installment, though, because it actually featured at least an occasional view of sex and bodily function that wasn’t full of shame and unrelenting sadness. No worries, though, because Nymphomaniac: Vol II had all that in spades. Wetlands, however, wisely doubles down on both the optimism and the bodily functions of Vol I. Starring Carla Juri as Helen, the film follows her to the hospital after an anal shaving accident, and though a series of anecdotes demonstrating her, umm, unique worldview and what led to it.
Wetlands is naaasssttyyy. Coolio doing Pornhub rap videos nasty.
Mmmm, let me touch your… antlers?
Okay, it’s actually way nastier. Cleaning a public toilet seat with your vagina nasty. Entirely literal pizza bukkake nasty. Some people are calling this a female gross-out comedy, but that’s not really fair. Wetlands makes the American Pies, Van Wilders, and even Freddie Got Fingereds of the world its bitch.
Why this is trust-worthy is because how far from judgmental, miserabilist, or mean-spirited this all is. There’s joy and comedy along with the drama, which actually makes everything feel more true to life than Nymphomaniac‘s uranium-heavy hand. Juri is essential to selling this, and luckily for Wetlands, she’s a goddam star. She looks a bit like and has the effortless charm of a young Meg Ryan with the uninhibited comedy chops of a female… Seth Rogen? Sean William Scott? She’s kind of hard to characterize, because she’s better than that, and Wetlands works because we’re willing to go along with her however far she goes.
The film, under the skillful hand of director David Wnendt, is also excellently and energetically produced on all fronts, from its reality-heightened lighting and cinematography, boasting a variety of creative and/or gorgeous shots (that pizza scene has no business looking that good), to its colorful production design, razor-sharp editing, and great use of music.
Juri sells the more dramatic parts of the script well, but there’s a bit of a tonal disconnect there. There’s a broad range of tones to incorporate- comedy, drama, satire, tragedy, even romance, and the switch between them can be jolting, especially in the case of the almost Hollywood ending, which some folks seem to think is actually a fantasy or dream. If it isn’t, it’s kind of terrible when you think about it.
Ultimately, the attempts to psychoanalyze Helen come off as undercooked. As we gradually uncover more of her past familial trauma, it seems like she should be either less or significantly more fucked up. The source material, though, apparently touches on incest. Yeah… that’d do it.
This is what Nymphomaniac shoulda been. Shocking, hilarious, explicit, affecting, heartbreaking, utterly nasty, and somehow, utterly enjoyable.