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The Sessions

2013-03-01 14:57
 
The Sessions
What it's about:

Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California–based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), The Sessions tells the story of a man who lived most of his life in an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapist (Helen Hunt) and the guidance of his priest (William H Macy), he sets out to make his dream a reality.

What we thought:

A sex comedy with a tragi-comic premise may sound disastrous at first but The Sessions is easily one of the most heart-warming and poignant movies of the year so far.

Based on the personal writings of Mark O'Brien, the film takes on a very risque subject with a refreshingly mature approach - and is all the more genuine for it.

What makes Mark's quest to lose his virginity so unique is that he has been rendered a paraplegic since a childhood bout of polio and required the use of an iron lung.

He also has a number of assistants to take care of his daily needs and transport him in his gurney.

It's a very complicated, often precarious way of life but Mark's easy, wry sense of humour and unquenchable thirst to make real, human connections never weighs down the film's surprisingly upbeat tone.

When Mark, a devout Catholic, decides he wants to experience sex for the first time and consult a priest before he takes the plunge, it feels like the perfect marriage of all that makes Mark such a unique character.

At the heart of what makes The Sessions so life-affirming and genuine are the performances. John Hawkes does a complete 180 from the wretched criminal he played opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, which earned him an Oscar nomination, exuding a sweet awkwardness in Mark that doesn't battle against his severe disabilities, rather embracing it - and its challenges - as a true extension of who he is.

Helen Hunt brings an enigmatic strength as Cheryl, the sex surrogate and wife and mother, who helps Mark to fulfill his dying wish. In the relationship they cultivate there is no room for judgement or bitterness or recrimination or any of the typical stuff that usually results of a sexual relationship.

William H Macy is possibly the most chilled out Catholic priest you've ever encountered, and his frank counselling sessions with Mark are wickedly funny.

And like-minded fans of the late, great HBO series Deadwood will find special significance in John Hawkes' onscreen reunion with Calamity Jane herself, Robin Weigert - and W. Earl Brown (Dan Dority) who plays one of Mark's caretakers.

The Sessions, like Deadwood, is a must-see.


A life-affirming and infinitely rewarding true story about a severely disabled writer who sets out to lose his virginity before he dies.

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(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
Eric 3/6/2013 8:58 AM
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Excellent movie. Helen Hunt plays her role very well. Need more movies like this.
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