A few years ago Bridesmaids received its share of ink as a gross-out comedy in which its female characters found themselves in unflattering situations, but it’s hard to rival Wetlands for the blithe intrepidness of its raunch. David Wnendt’s peppy adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s novel follows an extremely uninhibited teenager, Helen (a winning Carla Juri), on her bodily explorations, leaving nearly no part of her anatomy untouched.
The book’s essentially stream-of-consciousness approach is anchored here by Helen’s visit to the hospital for an operation arising from hemorrhoids and a shaving mishap. Interspersed with this eventful visit are a daisy-chain of stories and recollections recounted with a happily open-minded attitude toward bodily fluids, complete with mischievous button-pushing (or encouragement, in the case of one scene with a close friend). But the body-positivity comes with an unexpectedly darker backstory about a hygiene-obsessed mother and self-absorbed father.
Wnendt’s filmmaking is showily energetic, giving old Trainspotting-style devices yet another go-round in a deglamorized context. These techniques are less irritating than one might expect, but the film’s gleeful defying of taboos would not succeed without Juri in the starring role. She brings a sly charisma to the film, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s cute, but more importantly, moment to moment she gives a brightly personal turn to material that could have easily felt like it was trying even harder than it is.