Matchup of the Day: Amélie vs. Wetlands
Amélie is a quirky, feel-good French film with a cutesy heroine. Wetlands is a German bodily function extravaganza with a delightfully vulgar heroine. With which film do your sensibilities lie?
I’ve attempted to watch Amélie on multiple occasions. For the sake of this article, I finally pushed myself past the 15-minute barrier that I’d been stuck at for years. Yes, 15-minutes was all I could take of Amélie. After finally enduring the entire two-hour running time, I can confidently state that the remaining 105-minutes do not improve the first fifteen. I am aware that Amélie is beloved, and that even people who do not care for foreign cinema claim to enjoy it. I don’t necessarily understand why, but I acknowledge its beloved status. My feelings about Amélie are best summed up by this New York Daily News review, which says of the film’s title character “whether you’re charmed or bored by the movie depends entirely on your feelings for Amelie, a young woman whose hyper-quirky personality both takes some getting used to and grows old fast.” I would extend that assessment to the whole movie, which is a relentless barrage of quirk.
Wetlands is similar to Amélie as far as being about a free-spirited young woman. The style of the film is also comparable, if not quite as manic. More than a few articles I’ve come across have contrasted the two movies, calling Wetlands the “anti-Amélie” or the “filthy Amélie”. Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Charlotte Roche, the author has explained the intent of her work as
“I wanted to write about the ugly parts of the human body. The smelly bits. The juices of the female body. . . . I created a heroine that has a totally creative attitude towards her body — someone who has never even heard that women are supposedly smelly between their legs. A real free spirit.”
The main character in Wetlands, Helen, is definitely not squeamish about coming into contact with every bodily fluid and excretion imaginable. Nor is she shy about expressing her sexual desires. There are a few scenes in Amélie of a sexual nature – though none are as raunchy as any given moment in Wetlands. The German title, Feuchtgebiete (“moist patches), refers to female genitalia, after all.
The world could very well be divided between those who identify more with Amélie and those who feel an affinity toward Helen. Both characters exist in a fantasy world – Amélie’s is whimsical while Helen’s is perverse. Personally, I’d rather hang out with Helen. As gross as Helen’s world is, Amélie’s is just too saccharine.