So today www.joereddington.com gets it’s first homegrown film review. Although I love and review films, I find that I’m just not emotionally up to coping with anything dealing directly with disability without becoming a total mess. However, I am lucky enough to know people that both have good taste in films and are made of sterner stuff. Today’s post is a review of Come As You Are (Hasta La Vista), which is about sex and disability and is subtitled in English. The review is by Emily Dongray, whose bio follows the review, if there are any other budding film reviewers out there, do let me know.
Come As You Are is a road trip movie, it’s a buddy movie, it’s a coming of age tale, but what sets it apart is that it’s a film about disability. Three friends taking to the road with the hope of losing their virginity is well-covered ground, but the difference here is that Philip is paraplegic, Jozef is blind, and Lars has a brain tumour. Bringing to light, with clever levity, a less discussed aspect of disability, director Geoffrey Enthoven dives into the sexual aspirations of three young lads. And that’s what they are, three lads out on the road, looking for a good time. It pulls no punches to show the disabled men as people not defined by their disabilities, never does the watcher feel invited to feel pity. They tease each other about incontinence pads, they tell dick jokes, they scare each other with campfire tales, they get drunk and insult foreigners; it’s comedy, some of it is dark, some of it pure slapstick, but overwhelmingly it’s honest. Now, as a person with little experience of disability I was fascinated by the minute details dropped in. I was surprised to find it relatable, as a mother of a toddler. It did hold back enough that viewers weren’t put off; it never felt gritty, crude, or ill-considered, and the dramatic aspects never crowded out the comedy.
Come As You Are scratches the surface of a wealth of topics: the difficulty of parents and carers, the day to day sexual needs of those unable to fulfil their own desires, the flip-side of abuse from those with disability, taboos of inter-ability relationships, and the existence of specialist sex workers, and it does so without being heavy. It has you acknowledging that their nurse/driver, Claude, experiences similar problems while not having physical disabilities, strengthening its unpatronising motif that disabled people are just people disabled. What resonates by the end is that everyone struggles in the same way, that every person has needs but requires respect, not pity. In short, it had the courage to have a disabled antihero rather than cast in a saintly light.
Emily Dongray is a mother, DJ, film nerd, and, importantly, one of the people who saves you from witnessing many of the truly awful spelling errors that exist in early versions of blog posts.