Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Come As You Are (Hasta La Vista) Review

Also known by the original title of Hasta La Vista, Come As You Are is the simple tale of the basic desire of three young men to get laid. It could be another American Pie; A Belgian Pie with three horny 20 somethings desperate to lose their virginity by crossing Europe to get to a brothel. The twist is that these three guys; Philp, Lars and Jozef are disabled. Their desire to lose their virginity is more desperate than any of the stars of a thousand teen movies. Their only option appears to be a trip to Spain to a brothel that invites them to come as they are.

Films about disability are few and far between but with the recent Untouchable (The Intouchables) making a fortune at the box office, there was bound to be others tackling mobility challenged characters in honest and uncompromising ways. Come As You Are might sound like a sad, sick joke (three disable guys walk into a brothel...) but has a whole lot of heart in its story of discovery, independence and the quest for sex.

Lars, Jozef and Philip are three friends who love wine, long for some sexual experience but have to rely on their parents to help them with even basic tasks. When Philip suggests they deceive their parents and take a trip to a brothel in Spain, their desire for independence is matched only by the challenges they face on the trip. With Lars’ condition deteriorating, they set off with the help of bus driver Claude on a trip to change their lives.

Comic dramas can be careless and Come As You Are mostly holds back from easy laughs or overt melodrama. There is the odd laugh at the expense of the characters’ disabilities but it is the three protagonists who have the best sense of humour about their conditions. The drama is always present but there is a lightness of tone that is almost perfectly managed throughout.

Though they are good friends, there are obvious complications to overcome along the way. Their disabilities get in the way of anything being easy but aside from the odd mishap, they cope admirably with obstacles. Poor Jozef who may be mobile but has very limited sight often draws the short straw and has to help his two friends and it quickly becomes clear how dangerous this trip could be for all involved. Their parents know the dangers, have held the burden of responsibility for too long and are terrified to let their sons tackle the world on their own.  

From the opening it is clear that these characters have one goal. The opening shot is from Philip’s point of view as he watches a pair of women running on the beach, their breasts bouncing in slow motion. None of them know how to treat women just as women have likely never known how to treat them. They are not little saints and not beyond some sexist behaviour. Their treatment of Claude (when they first discover she is a woman) is disgusting and their later lack of respect for another woman lands them in trouble. Philip is perhaps the most severely disabled lacking any mobility but he is also the least sympathetic of the three; his arrogance and obnoxiousness often making him far from easily likeable.

However the film does not advocate their sexism and though their destination is a brothel and the majority of women in the film are there to be looked at, it is Claude that emerges as the real revelation. The climax that all three have been waiting so long for is touching if hardly surprising and given plenty of emotional weight from the fantastic performances of the three leads. It is their characters, not their disabilities, that stay with you after the film.

The road trip may occasionally meander but Come As You Are earns its emotional ending, if rushing to wrap things up a little too quickly at the last minute. For a film about disability and virginity, both subjects are handled with admirable sensitivity. Like its protagonists, the script for Come As You Are is not quite sure of how to treat women, seeming to excuse prostitution and brothels as acceptable, particularly if the clients are disabled. However as a coming of age story with a difference, Come as You Are excels, creating fully believable characters that neither beg for pity or scream of stereotyping. Come As You Are may not fully explore gender politics, but it notably adds to the increasing array of representations of people with disabilities and is certainly a trip worth taking.

Come As You Are is out in UK cinemas on Friday 7th June.

More recent reviews at I Love That Film:

This is the End Review 

Fast and Furious 6 Review

Ruby Sparks Review

The Look of Love Review 

21 & Over Review

Iron Man 3 Review

Olympus Has Fallen Review

Spring Breakers Review

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