Doused in mud, soaked in bleach. For Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), coming as he is means being without function in his limbs, afflicted since birth. For Mo (Rav Patel), coming as he is means being completely blind. For Matt (Hayden Szeto), coming as he is means adjusting to a new normal of being paralyzed from the waist down. the result of an unfortunate injury that put a pause on his boxing career. All attend physical therapy, and are under the watch of their helpful, if micromanaging, parents.
Each are grown men, sadly not treated as such. There are many experiences that this trio have never been exposed to, sex included. The urges are strong, but how are they going to achieve carnal bliss? Scotty gets tipped to a place in Montreal that specifically caters to the disabled. Driver? There’s CraigsList for that, and the trio get lucky in finding an out-of-work nurse (Gabourey Sidibe) to assist. Road trip! Unbeknownst to their parents, of course.
A couple of months ago—which feels like years ago now—we got a remake of a strong foreign film in Downhill that served as a basic demonstration on why many of these features seem to get lost in translation when they become Americanized. Whether by sheer dumbing down, an awkward fit with casting, or other combination of factors, they end up coming off as a slapdash, passionless endeavor. You’d think that Come As You Are, itself a remake of a remake out of Belgium first (Hasta la Vista) and The Netherlands second (Adios Amigos) would suffer the safe fate following those well received films. Not so. It’s been an irregular year, but this update stands as one of the better films of it.
Serving as not only director but editor and cinematographer is Richard Wong. It’s the little things in this movie he highlights that able people rarely think about in their day-to-days and playing those for laughs and uncomfortable drama, whether that be drinking a brewski, driving a car, or admiring an oceanic view. The frame is often focused on the threesome/foursome; there’s never any doubt that an audience isn’t seeing this story through their eyes. Steadily shot, as if in sequence, the direction evolves as its characters do, eventually becoming more introspective and subdued as it arrives to its destination.
Wong is solid, but he’s not the Most Valuable Player of Come As You Are. That honor goes to writer Erik Linthorst. His story hits at the basic yet compelling need that all humans desire in one way, shape, or form irregardless of our strengths or weaknesses: Autonomy, the ability to experience life (or at least bits of it) on our own volition. It’s a deftly balanced script housing legitimate, well-timed humor and sentimentality that doesn’t give off the impression it’s slapped together. Sex Drive is an obvious comp., more mature than that movie with elements of Stand By Me for good measure. Linthorst also rightfully abstains from painting his disabled characters as pure saints, hitting at the idea one character brings up about just being looked at as people. That means recognizing that assholes can come in many shapes and sizes. The ending may be a bit divisive, the only point in the movie where the tone registers as sort of off-kilter for the magnitude of what’s on the screen, though it does stay true to its character(s).
It’s a strong cast who make up those characters, beginning with Rosenmeyer. He’s the aforementioned asshole, a mechanism Scotty’s adopted to defend himself from the difficult world. Managing to be punchable and sympathetic, he’s the fulcrum of Come As You Are, the central point of an explosive middle scene that happens to be extremely raw and filled to the brim with emotion. His frenemy, played by Szeto—-seemingly forever able to play late teens and young adults—remains one of the underrated actors few people talk about. Patel is the glue that holds everything together, with Sidibe serving as the wild card who herself needs this trip as strongly as the male threesome she transports does.
“Just getting off like human beings.” That’s a refrain one character says near the end of Come As You Are, and it comes to reflect the simplicity of the story. Some things hold up time after time, revision after revision. Perhaps the true story Come As You Are is inspired from is one of those things.
Photo credits go to deadline.com, impawards.com, IMDB.com, and http://www.samuelgoldwynfilms.com.
Feel free to follow me @MovieManJackson/@Markjacksonisms