I should say here if you don’t want to hear sexual talk from me then you should probably skip this post altogether as it’s going to be very hard not to sound crude whilst reviewing a very graphic film indeed. This week was my choice and we’re still in international waters, with a critically-acclaimed (?) German film.
As always *spoilers!* – also, let’s slap a little *NSFW* on here too, so you’re under no illusion.
Off we go!
IMDB Synopsis: The adventures of an eccentric girl who has strange attitudes towards hygiene and sexuality longs for the reunion of her divorced parents.
Underneath all the masturbation, dirty underwear and anal fixation lies a heart. A broken one, but a heart nonetheless.
Helen is 18 years old, sexually ‘creative’ and a little lax in the hygiene department. Considering her mother’s OTT attitude to orifice cleanliness this is hardly surprising. Having to present your butt hole for inspection before bed every night as a child must surely take its toll.
She also has hemorrhoids which presents its own challenges. We open with Helen walking barefoot into a public toilet that makes the loo in Trainspotting look like Mariah Carey’s en suite. It’s the kind of place people are regularly murdered but this doesn’t bother our heroine, who’s only there for the momentary relief offered by a tube of Anusol (or Germany’s version).
Helen immediately reveals herself to be a game girl with her own strong attitude towards sexuality and her own body. Reluctant to wash very often, she’s not afraid to recycle the same pair of knickers for who knows how long. This doesn’t scare away the boys; quite the opposite in fact, Helen believes her personal aroma attracts potential mates. She’s probably right there, we ain’t nothing but animals after all.
I’m going to try to avoid bullet-pointing every sexual act one by one because I don’t want this review to read like a list, but there’s plenty to be had here, something for everybody if you will. Though, despite the graphic nature of the film and its content, looking back I don’t remember that much full sex and I think that’s quite telling. Perhaps I’m over thinking it but I’m sure that’s a comment on our protagonist.
Anywhoo. There are scenes involving root vegetables (that GO BACK IN THE FRIDGE!), a brothel, lesbian undertones (and overtones), casual wanks in the park; the list goes on and on.
But what Helen wants more than sexy sex is for her parents to get back together. Like badly. Like so badly that she’s got a plan to force them to live together miserably in the same bed until they die, chained together like prisoners. Funnily enough, neither parent is really up for this arrangement, so it looks set to remain firmly in her fantasies.
We’re given lots of flashbacks that show Helen as a youngster, which act to give us a painful insight into the breakdown of her parent’s marriage. Helen’s father (Axel Milberg) is largely absent and sometimes hurts her without even registering it, while her mother (Meret Becker) comes across as a bit of cold fish, one who’s turned to Christianity and a round of douchey boyfriends since the divorce. She’s obviously deeply depressed and following the birth of her second child, Toni (Ludger Bökelmann), things don’t look any better.
One day Helen suffers a shaving injury that exacerbates her hemorrhoids issue and she has the option to either bleed all over her classroom or take herself to the hospital; luckily she chooses the latter. Here she formulates the plan to bring her parents back together over her sickbed – what could possibly go wrong?
Incidentally, one of Helen’s more adult flashbacks has us meeting Kanell (Selam Tadese), who has a shaving fantasy but considers Helen too young to actually sleep with. Admirable perhaps?
We also meet her best friend Corinne, a cute blonde who earns a reputation early on for granting her boyfriend a dubious sex wish. It doesn’t really matter what the Mean Girls say though, as long as our BFFs have each other.
Back to hospital and Helen has come round from surgery and is entertaining herself by flirting with Robin, her nurse, much to the annoyance of his girlfriend Valerie (Peri Baumeister), also a nurse.
And since her parents can’t follow instructions and turn up at the same designated time (thus continually missing each other), Helen pretends she hasn’t had a bowel movement (even though she does have a rather messy, secret one) so they keep her in. This ensures that she has plenty of time to ruminate on her internalised sadness, but also bond with Robin (who’s pretty damn cute, tbh).
We find out what really happened between her parents and also, how it came to be that Corinne hasn’t visited her bestie in hospital (spoiler: Helen has been kind of a bitch). There’s a particularly messy flashback in which our friends demonstrate their own unique version of the blood sisters ritual which is equal parts hilarious/heinous.
I’ll leave this here because it’s a film worth seeing, if you can get past the squirm factor. It’s both anally and orally fixated, unafraid to share bodily fluids and has more equal opportunity nudity than you can shake a stick at. I’m cool with all those things, though I had to look away during the pizza scene (which is probably one of the tamer but still turned my stomach).
Before we’re done though, Helen has one final trick up her gown. So she can stay in hospital to wait for her parents to meet, she makes the ultimate sacrifice and it’ll have you wincing for a long while after the credits stop rolling, I’m pretty sure.
Questions? Do you want some questions?! Will Mutter and Vater get back together? Will Robin ditch Valerie and run away with Helen? Will Helen ever put her orange pants in the wash? What happened between Helen and Corinne? And more importantly, will I ever look at a knob of raw ginger in the same way again?
You know the drill.
Jizz, poo, cum, spit, blood etc all gets a bit dull after a while and I do get the feeling a lot of the time that it’s only been included to shock me. I mean, I’m all for no holds barred film making and uncharacteristically disgusting (yet still aesthetically perfect, natch) female leads who challenge the stereotypical female trope.
Though, thinking about it, I don’t believe this is about me at all, this film is taking the piss out of the easily shocked, the viewers who have a problem with menstruation (men) and sexual debris. Which kind of makes it brilliant. It goes on about half an hour too long though and somehow seemed considerably longer than the whole of Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & Vol. II (2013), which, combined, is four fucking hours long.
Carla Juri btw could be the love child of Ally Sheedy and Meg Ryan; and is really very good. She does vulnerable kook well and in the end I’m sure you’ll root for her, even if her dream is misplaced and self-serving. Once you’re privy to just what the family went through, you can kind of forgive her.
Funny she’s so uncannily Sheedy, as the film’s climax is decidedly John Hughes. You know, if John Hughes made anal sex jokes.
My Rating: 3.5/5 – as above, it’s a bit too long and all gets a bit much. Well worth a look though.