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11th September 2017

A Film Noir, Without The Noir

You wait years for a Heather Graham film (I haven’t been waiting years for a Heather Graham film), and suddenly two come along at once.

Wetlands sees Brit, Adewale Akinnuoy Agbaje (Suicide Squad, Trumbo), as an American get back in the police force and move to Atlantic City to be near his estranged daughter and ex-wife, Heather Graham (Last Rampage, The Hangover).

He has a murky past and is trying to get back into his daughter’s life. As a storm heads for the city he tries his best to protect his daughter from the people his ex-wife’s new girlfriend is mixed up in.

I’d like to tell you more, I’d like to wax lyrical about how first-time writer/director Emanuele Della Valle has created a crime-noir that harks back to times gone-by.

Unfortunately, Wetlands is too slow, meandering and unsure about what exactly it wants to be for me to say that.

We do have the likes of Christopher McDonald (Requiem For A Dream, Thelma & Louise) as Agbaje’s partner and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty, RoboCop) as his partners wife who do their best.

Agbaje’s past is told in flashback which are done in black and white, but we don’t get many and they don’t tell us much, if anything. I’m not sure what they’re supposed to add?

The passage of time in general throughout the film isn’t handled particularly well. One minute we’re in the here and now, the next we’re in the past, then it’s three years later. No-one’s particularly aged and we don’t know what’s happened to some of the characters who previously seemed important.

The characters are predictable, cliched and uninteresting (a ‘dodgy’ eye-talian for example). By the end you won’t care whose done what to whom, when and how, you’ll just feel indifferent about it all.

I don’t want to be completely negative about the whole thing. The cinematography is beautiful and the directing is good. It’s just that something, somewhere has gone wrong with Wetlands.

McDonald and Ehle are good whilst Agbaje’s performance flips between great and looking a little unsure about himself. He does do a good accent though.

It feels as if Wetlands was intended to be a crime-noir. Slow, dark, full of twists and turns and an element of ‘who-dunnit’.

However, whilst the performances, dialogue and story has roughly kept to that formula, the rest of the movie seems to have got away from them.

It’s a confusing, frustratingly slow film that never gets out of first gear. There’s no tension, no drama, just Agbaje going from place to place being moody. Whilst he does moody very well, it’s not enough for an entire film.

You wait years for a Heather Graham film (I haven't been waiting years for a Heather Graham film), and suddenly two come along at once.

Emanuele Della Valle

Emanuele Della Valle

Running Time:
1h 38min

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