Director: Richard Wong
Starring: Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel, Gabourey Sidibe and Janeane Garofalo
Run time: 1h 45min
“24 years old and you’re washing my balls. Perfectly normal.” So says Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) as he’s reluctantly, yet necessarily, being bathed by his mother (Janeane Garofalo). Scotty has a condition that’s left him in a wheelchair and unable to use his hands. At his therapy centre, he befriends Matt (Hayden Szeto) who’s also in a wheelchair because of a recent accident.
Desperately longing to feel the touch of a woman that isn’t his mum and lose his virginity, Scotty discovers a brothel in Canada that caters for people with his physical challenges. Enlisting the help of Mo (Ravi Patel), he’s not in a wheelchair but is blind, or visually impaired if you please, the three sneak away from their overprotective parents and set out on a road-trip across America to fulfil their fantasies. They’re aided by Sam (Gabourey Sidibe), a nurse oblivious to their plan.
Based on true events and a remake of 2011’s Belgian film, Hasta la Vista, Come As You Are is not highly amusing in places, but incredibly sensitive and full of pathos without patronising. A razor-sharp script is delivered with expert ease by the leads and insensitive judgements and verbal abuse are explored, often with comedic results, but always with a sense of truth at its heart.
The moral dilemma faced by people in their situation of potentially paying for sex is handled delicately and with tact, but also with an in your face brashness, courtesy of the obnoxious, yet somehow endearing, Scotty. There are some highly amusing set-pieces including a barroom brawl and a hair-raising grooming session where one of the boys needs a little help from his friends, but a driving sequence is a little too daft and out of place.
What’s important about a film like this, is its message which, if handled poorly, makes for crude and difficult viewing. Erik Linthorst’s script is far too clever for that and showcases many of the very real issues faced daily by people with disabilities. Some of this remains uncomfortable to watch, but only because of certain parts of society’s preconceptions and the fact that some people are just bullies. The three have their ups and downs and bond over their similar circumstances whilst also resenting each other’s company fuelled by their own situation.
Come As You Are does raise the issue of why disabled actors weren’t cast in the main roles, which is a valid point. Asta Philpot, whose experiences the film is based on, was heavily involved throughout and director Richard Wong reportedly partnered with various organisations during the filmmaking process, but this will be seen by many as a missed opportunity by the studio to move things forward for disabled actors. For more on this, please read an interview of the main players by Kristen Lopez here.
Funny, yet thought provoking, Come As You Are is full of charm and warmth with moments of poignancy and heartbreak. Part sex-comedy, part road-trip bromance and featuring an outstanding cast, feel good movies don’t get much better than this.
Come As You Are will be released on Premium VOD from 17th July and available on Digital Download from 10th August.