Come as you are

This is a re-make of a Belgian film Hasta La Vista ‘based on a true story’ about a British disabled man, Asta Philpott, who went to Amsterdam in search of sex to suit his ‘special needs’. Apart from the similar plot-line centering on the road trip undertaken by three young men to a Montreal brothel the similarities end there as the movie gets the full monty Hollywood treatment.

The film tackles with unsentimentally and honesty the difficulties faced by people with disabilities when it comes to sex. Our three dudes – two wheelchair bound and one visually-impaired – are all virgins and must live with this frustration. One of the opening scenes exemplifies the indignities of being quadriplegic when Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) is woken by his mother ripping back the duvet to reveal the visual evidence of his night-time fantasies. 

Our unlikely trio, thrown together by attending the same day centre, escape on a hired van to seek their sexual nirvana.  The potential for misogyny is soon dispelled by chauffeur Sam (the ginormous and superficially slightly scary Gabourey Sidibe, best-known for Precious) a no-nonsense nurse who quickly puts ‘asshole’ Scotty in his place for constantly calling her ‘sweetheart’. Perhaps she has a heart of gold underneath her grumpy demeanour.

All roads trip such as this must use humour as a foil for the rather more serious subject matter. So here we have the constant squabbling between handsome fellow wheelchair-user Matt (Hayden Szeto), nicknamed Mr Biceps by jealous Scotty, and OCD safety-obsessed Mo (Ravi Patel), whose visual impairment doesn’t prevent him from being forced to drive the van in a a heart-stopping sequence, while trying to escape the distraught parents who give chase to their errant children – all adults over the age of 21! It reminded me of a blind driving exercise I did on a management course many years ago, truly terrifying as instructions were shouted out by colour code – e.g. orange meant right, banana stop etc. Not so different for poor Mo and with similar results.

Erik Linthorst’s script zings along, and there is an unraveling of emotions and faux perceptions of disabilities – like the traffic cop who stops them and then says, ‘My cousin’s brother-in-law is Downs syndrome…I get it.’  Mo, Matt and Scotty each have personal issues which make them human, at times infuriating and, at others, likeable. In other words all rounded characters, no kid gloves for them. 

The problem with the film is that none of the actors is disabled and that’s a real issue. In this culture where trying to balance the lack of diversity is paramount, especially in Hollywood, it’s no excuse to fall back on excuses of timing and budgets as a barrier to equality.

Having said that, this is an enjoyable lockdown movie and is available on Curzon and Amazon Prime. 

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