Review: Adios amigos (2016)

Adios amigos (2016)

Directed by: Albert Jan van Rees | 92 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Martijn Lakemeier, Yannick van de Velde, Bas Hoeflaak, Margôt Ros, Juul Vrijdag, Loes Schnepper, Lieke-Rosa Altink, Geert Lageveen, Stefan Stasse, Don Alphonso, Han Oldigs, Joost van Schie, Ids van der Krieke, Jorn Pronk

The quest of teenagers or young adults to lose their virginity is often a source of inspiration for filmmakers. But when it comes to young people with physical disabilities, the rinse gets thin. The true story of the disabled Asta Philpot, who took a trip to the Costa del Sol with two friends in 2007 to have their first sexual experience in a brothel, inspired the BBC to make a documentary. That documentary was again noticed by Belgian filmmakers, and that resulted in ‘Hasta la vista’ (2011). ‘Adios amigos’ is another remake of that. Producer Burny Bos bought the remake rights before ‘Hasta la vista’ made a successful tour of film festivals and had a modest release in the Netherlands. Anne Barnhoorn (award-winning screenwriter for ‘Aanmodderfakker’ and ‘Defloration of Eva van End’) wrote the screenplay for ‘Adios amigos’.

The super frustrated Philip (Yannick van de Velde in a tour de force) is paralyzed from the neck down. Lars (Martijn Lakemeier) is also wheelchair bound, but that is due to a tumor. He is terminally ill. The third member of the group of friends is the gentle Joost (Bas Hoeflaak), who is almost completely blind. All three rely on their family for their daily care, but in the swimming pool the idea arises to go on holiday independently of family. To Salou, because there are the most beautiful girls who don’t make any problems with who they go to bed with. The boys start preparing enthusiastically, and look for an attendant in possession of a van on the marketplace. But when they present the plan to their parents – only Joost keeps it from his overprotective mother – they obviously only see bears on the road. Still, one father understands the boys’ desires and now that he’s tacked on, the rest will follow suit. As long as it happens on their terms…

Then Lars’ disease throws a spanner in the works. The doctor advises him not to go on holiday. The parents feel sorry for the boys, but they secretly decide to go into business with the supervisor they found on the marketplace. They leave without their parents knowing. Only the escort turns out not to be a man but a woman, the Croatian Lub (Margôt Ros), and the van is not nearly as luxurious as they had hoped. Philip in particular does not hide his displeasure. There are several hitches during the journey, but as with road movies, everyone gets to know themselves better and there are also wise life lessons for those who stay at home.

‘Adios amigos’ is a sympathetic, bittersweet feel-good film, skilfully avoiding cheap sentimentality. The characters feel lifelike and the viewer is not forced to empathize with them. Philip for example is a huge bastard, he draws the blood from under your nails with his mean comments towards his well-meaning mother and later in the film – towards Lub. But when Lub and Philip grow closer in a sweet, heartfelt scene, you understand his frustration all the better. The storyline surrounding the visually impaired Joost is somewhat predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less charming. The acting performances are very good, Yannick van de Velde, Martijn Lakemeier, Bas Hoeflaak and Margöt Ros are impressive. ‘Adios amigos’ shows in a funny, accurate way the everyday inconveniences, prejudices and frustrations that people with physical disabilities encounter and also sheds light on the side of the people around them. Fun fact: In a cameo at the beginning of the film, as Lars, Philip and Joost drive home from the pool, you can see Rob Hansen, co-founder of Movie 2 Movie (as Cinemagazine was first called).

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