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The Sessions– Movie Review

Submitted by on October 27, 2012 – 12:07 pmOne Comment
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The Sessions is Oscar-baity, but effective. A moving story with great acting, it drags a little due to its scope and the unobtrusive direction of Ben Lewin.

Based on the true story of journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, The Sessions follows O’Brien (John Hawkes) a devout Catholic confined to an iron lung who decides to lose his virginity”before his use-by date”  with a therapist called a “sex surrogate.” Mark wrestles with personal demons as he is affected by love as much as sex in multiple relationships, including the one with the caring surrogate Cheryl (Helen Hunt). “Welcome to the human race,” his priest (William H. Macy) tells him.

The Sessions could be a landmark in the depiction of the disabled on film. I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but I found the treatment of Mark’s sexual exploration fascinating and unlike anything I’d seen onscreen before- alternately poetic and clinical, matter-of-fact and arresting. Additionally, Hawkes’ strong performance and the honest script don’t make Mark a traditional hero- he is at times scared, obsessive, and even annoyingly self-defeating.

But the presence of a priest and worries about O’Brien’s immortal soul seem extraneous. This story isn’t about religious, moral, or spiritual doubts, or, as the Oscar-winning documentary about the real-life O’Brien asked, “What is a life worth living?” For better or worse, it is a love story.

Did you see The Sessions? What did you think?

 

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