© Ascot Elite/24 Bilder

Hasta la Vista! (Come As You Are)
Belgium 2011

Opening 12 Jul 2012

Directed by: Geoffrey Enthoven
Writing credits: Pierre De Clercq, Asta Philpot, Mariano Vanhoof
Principal actors: Charlotte Timmers, Roos Van Vlaenderen, Robrecht Vanden Thoren, Karel Vingerhoets, Katelijne Verbeke

Philip, Lars, and Jozef are physically handicapped or – to be politically correct – physically “challenged.” Philip is paralyzed from the neck down; Lars suffers from an aggressive disease which binds him to a wheelchair and Jozef is almost totally blind. They are young men, about 25 years old, and have never had sex. Life is fine is every other way possible considering their condition: money is plentiful; they live in nice surroundings; their parents are constantly on the lookout for their well-being to the point of hardly ever leaving them to their own devices; they have state-of-the-art computers and mechanical aids. However, this overall situation of constant attention also makes it difficult for them to sneak away from Belgium to Spain where El Cielo, the sex club of their dreams, is awaiting.

In the end, of course, they hit the road with Claude as their driver. They argue, act bratty and childish, and make amends; they eat in a fancy restaurant and sleep on the ground in the woods. Jozef translates Claude’s French until they realize that she also speaks Flemish. Upon their arrival in Spain, their generous parents, who, in the meantime have recovered from the shock of their sons’ absence, have rented a fancy villa complete with swimming pool (my favourite scene). They shop for clothes in a boutique and show up expectantly in the dimly lit night club which is loaded with gorgeous women just waiting for them. In the end the three of them return separately, all changed in some way.

This is a wonderful Road Movie about life and hope and the need to be “normal.” It reminds me of the 2010 German film Vincent Will Meer, although here there is so much more to the film to which non-handicapped viewers can relate. The actors (Robrecht Vanden Thoren, Gilles de Schryver, and Tom Audenaert – none of whom are actually physically handicapped) are talented, especially in using their facial expressions, often the only movable part of their bodies. This is a film about friendship, with virginity just a pretext. Kimke Desart, who plays Lars’ small sister who loves him to the point of enabling his escape to the painted women, is also excellent. Director Geoffrey Enthoven says, “…in the end, everyone is handicapped in his effort to communicate with others.” He was inspired by the English documentary ForOneNightOnly in which Asta Philpot tells his own true story of similar circumstances. Enthoven was able to collaborate with Philpot for this film. (Becky Tan)

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