Kirsty Jones, marketing manager at the Picturehouse at FACT, takes a look at this week’s Discover Tuesday film.
COME AS YOU ARE is a story about love and unconditional friendship, and a road movie in which the journey is more important than the destination.
The tone is set right from the opening sequence. Two young women run along a beach as the titles appear across their chests. We meet our first character, Philip, as the women pass the veranda where he sits. He slowly navigates his wheelchair around so he can follow these jogging beauties. We then see him arrive at a wine tasting and meet up with his two friends, Lars and Jozef. As we learn more about this trio, and their negative personal traits as well as their positive ones, we see that gratitude and manners can be hard to come by when people are stressed and upset.
Philip, paralysed from the neck down, is determined and selfish. Lars is also in a wheelchair, as a result of a brain tumour; he’s easy-going but concerned about his future. Jozef is blind, and is a gentle, considerate character who is quite easily pleased.
As we find out more about these men, we see a strangely beautiful codependency between them. They joke and tease each other but underneath it all have a real concern for one another. Aided by their nurse, Claude, who shows amazing wisdom in how she supports them, they make it to the end of their road trip through France and Spain.
I challenge anyone to not be moved by watching how Philip, Lars and Jozef grow individually and in their friendships. In a film that could have edged into prurience, director Geoffrey Enthoven has portrayed the sexual conquest tastefully and sensitively. The film deals more with life than sex; you feel the revelation experienced by our protagonists as they hit the road and quickly realise they’re on their own. The performances are flawless, the direction thoughtful and the story affecting.
This is the fifth feature by Enthoven (LES ENFANTS DE L’AMOUR, OVER THE HILL BAND), which was inspired by the story of campaigner Asta Philpot. Born with arthrogryposis, Philpot had heard of a legal brothel with wheelchair access during a vacation in Spain – he visited this place and lost his virginity. Enthoven offers insight without forcing the point he is trying to make. You don’t have to fully agree with the ethics to appreciate the message. The struggles of his three characters may arise from specific contexts, but they also have a universal relatability.
COME AS YOU ARE screens at Picturehouse cinemas across the UK on 25th June 2013.