Hasta La Vista (Come as You Are)

I had a real sense of déjà vu as I first got stuck into this film by Geoffrey Enthoven and when I read the press notes I realised it was because this film is based on the real life experiences of one Asta Philpot which the BBC made into a documentary a few years back.  Born with a lifelong condition that causes joint contractures before birth Asta is a strident campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities to enjoy an active sex life. As such in 2006 after hearing about and visiting a brothel in Spain which catered for his disability he decided to find 2 other men who shared his difficulties in finding a romantic or sexual relationship and this subsequent trip was the subject of the documentary and also is what inspired this film.

You would have to be stone hearted not to feel uplifted by what has been presented here. The 3 main characters Lars’ deteriorating health causes his parents to put a stop to his planned trip with (Gilles De Schryver), Philip (Robrecht Vanden Thoren) and Jozef (Tom Audenaert) so they decide to do a runner with the help of Claude (Isabelle De Hertogh). Their struggles to cope with living life to the full whilst negotiating hotels, rivers, excess drinking and the like are reminiscent of the inbetweeners movie. They are a group of young men who are gagging for it and like other groups of youths go to Spain en masse to get a shag.

Audenaert’s Jozef is outstandingly sweet and gentle for the majority of the film but shows some true grit when pushed too far by Vanden Thoren’s Philip, the angry young man and leader of the group. The true magic for me came in the “warthog” shaped Claude, De Hertogh turns in a sensitive and lusty performance and had real presence, holding her own against the intensity of the rest of the cast.

A delightfully funny and poignant script is delivered by Pierre De Clerq who gets the tone just right. Geoffrey Enthoven is known for his taste in taboo subjects so is the perfect helmer for this uncompromising story.

This is a great film, because there are times when the disability becomes invisible and you see that this is just a bunch of mates trying to make sense of life and their desires just like everyone else, which is how it should be. I just wish it had made it to cinemas last year over here when the UK suddenly woke up to the fact that having a disability is no barrier to achieving your dreams.

Asta Philpot says “You’re a long time dead […] I love every moment I’m here on this Earth”. Hell yeah!

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