Come as You Are
This rollicking ride of three disabled guys on a road-trip to get laid is packed with real heart.
Taking its premise from the true story of Asta Philpot (whose journey to a Spanish brothel has already been the subject of a BBC documentary and two European films), Come as You Are follows 24-year old quadriplegic Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), sexually frustrated while being almost entirely dependent for all his daily care needs on overbearing mother Liz (Janeane Garofalo). Finding a brothel in Montreal that caters for those with special needs, Scotty sets out on a mission to finally be rid of his virginity.
But he’ll need help. Scotty finds fellow travellers in anxious, visually impaired Mo (Ravi Patel) and reluctant, recently paraplegic Matt (Hayden Szeto). The underestimated rogues get their cover stories sorted and suitcases packed and hire laconic carer Sam (Gabourey Sidibe) to take off across the American-Canadian border, their worried families in hot pursuit.
While director Richard Wong and screenwriter Erik Linthorst use all the usual routes and bumps of the traditional buddy-road trip movie, the humour does hit the mark. It’s occasionally bawdy, but mostly clever. The witty dialogue (especially one instance where a potential snag with a police officer is turned over with a sly, hilarious exchange on politically correct labelling) is often funnier than the more obvious slapstick (when the trio put blind Mo into the driving seat, for instance).
Linthorst plays down any raunchiness for moments of recognition and reflection, complemented when Wong sobers the boisterous pace. While the film winces at exploiting prostitutes for its disabled characters (throwing the term “morally ambiguous” around in reference to the trip), it’s unapologetic in its assertion of disabled people’s self-reliance, sexuality and emotional needs. Uproarious bar fights and bitterly hard truths are not out of bounds along the way.
The (able-bodied) cast’s sharply humorous, sensitively realised performances are a gift. Rosenmeyer’s irascible, randy presence snipes perfectly against Szelto’s aloof, handsome, but privately angry rival. Patel flits between with tickling, if broader comedy – ever the lovable geek – while Sidibe’s no-nonsense attitude soon melts into the heartfelt glue of the gang. Their exterior performances (physical or persona) never lose sight of deeper tenderness, insecurities or pain beneath.
At the end of this trip, Come as You Are is irrepressibly feel-good, yet never swerves the depth, diversity and difficulties of disabled experience.
Come as You Are is released digitally on Curzon Home Cinema on 17th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for Come as You Are here: