Three young Flemish men are struggling through life with a variety of physical ailments; one is nearly blind, the other almost completely paralysed, and the third has lost the use of his legs and has a life threatening brain tumor. In true cinematic tradition the trio only have one thing on their mind: Sex. With their sights set on a specialist brothel in Spain they run away on a European road trip, with the aid of a van and seemingly grumpy female driver Claude, under the pretense of embarking on a wine tasting tour. As they travel their independence is tested to breaking point and their prejudices are tested.
Any comedy focussing on a cast of mostly disabled characters is treading on dangerous ground. This is a post-London 2012 world and we aren’t going to stand for the likes of The Ringer any more. Luckily Come As You Are successfully pulls off its attempts at humour without being offensive or over-cautious. The three leads do laugh at one another but it is done with affection in much the same way as I will hurl insults at only my closest friends and family (and obviously any enemies, exes, or pub quiz masters). Obvious ailments aside these are three regular guys being unpleasant to one another on a road trip as they try to get laid.
The road trip element itself is slightly underdeveloped. With the physical limitations of the participants we are limited to sights of the back of the van and the occasional overnight stop. I have a bit of a love affair when it comes to films including any form of road trip. I am easily swept up and spent the next few hours after the credits roll imagining myself driving down Route 66 with the wind in my hair, music blaring out of the radio, and the women of America completely smitten by my British accent. For me a road trip is all about escape and freedom and while in Come As You Are there was plenty of escaping the trio seem to find themselves just as constrained as before.
With their wine trip merely a facade and the brothel as their end goal the rest of the trip lacks any lustre, lacklustre you might say, as it becomes more of a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The road trip does have a few minor incidents but at no point did anything occur of too much note. The characters grew both together and individually as their journey went on but the film seemed to be mostly treading water as we waiting for the inevitable arrival at the Spanish brothel. Full praise to the cast, Isabelle de Hertogh, Tom Audenaert, Gilles De Schrijver, and Robrecht Vanden Thoren, as they were all fantastic at distracting me from the lack of plot as best they could.
Come As You Are is a fun and sweet story about struggling to live a normal life against enormous setbacks. It sags a little in the middle as the film becomes a road trip too focussed on its destination and not on the journey they are all going on. Metaphorical journey is not included.
Come As You Are is on limited release from Friday 7th June 2013 and is out on DVD from 7th October 2013.