REVIEW: THE SESSIONS
SYNOPSIS: Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California–based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.
REVIEW: Imagine being basically immobile from your neck down. Now imagine having an itch somewhere on your body. Mark O’Brien, John Hawkes, the lead character of this touching film, tries hard to “scratch with your mind.” His battle with Polio has led him to his new normal. He needs to be attached to an iron lung for a large part of the day. His only independence involves whatever he can do with his mouth and usually a pencil or stick that he grabs with his mouth. He does this to dial a telephone, for instance. Now Mark is a poet, a Berkeley graduate, and is very witty and just a regular guy with an incredible limitation. But even with that, he seems to be in good spirits and deals with his situation with resourcefulness. His resourcefulness will come into play again with his latest and all consuming desire to lose his virginity. This is a new take of the 40 year old virgin, very much a new take. These extremely unusual circumstances call for an unusual resolution. In comes Cheryl, Helen Hunt, a sex surrogate who deals with these types of situations, go figure. What an occupation! What a story! Oh, and by the way, it’s based on a true story. Even with the uniqueness of it, believe it or not, one of the more eye opening aspects of the movie is Helen’s role and what she does for said role. Let’s just say that we see her in a totally nude light . . . oops, I mean new light. And she looks darn good too. It’s quite the buzz about this picture. But don’t let that distract you from her performance which is also creating Oscar buzz. Mr. Hawkes is generating some buzz of his own as his performance is more than convincing. Adding some light-heartedness to the film, we get a genuine performance from William H. Macy as the Father to whom Mark confides his desires and adventures to, not just as a Father but more so as a friend
This film is all sex and all heart at the same time. In this day and age, this particular story of sex is so pure and innocent that you almost forget that the movie is about sex. It is charming, emotional, deep, and moving. It is about intimacy and love, and a desire to experience life like any other normal person. Surprisingly it is presented with plenty of wit. The dialogue throughout the film is mostly upbeat considering the potential hopelessness of Mark’s condition. The overall story being told is definitely the biggest treat of this film, and the performances are a close second. Writer/Director Ben Lewin did a fabulous and sincere job with this project. This movie is a great choice if you want to see something real that will tug at your heart.
By Cine Marcos
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