At the age of 38, Mark O'Brien, a man who uses an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and his priest, he contacts Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate and a typical soccer mom with a house, a mortgage and a husband. Inspired by a true story, The Sessions, follows the fascinating relationship which evolves between Cheryl and Mark as she takes him on his journey to manhood. Written by
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Himself - Reporter:
Mark O'Brien has been going to UC Berkley since 1978. That's O'Brien in the motorized gurney heading for class last week. He had polio when he was six years old. The disease left his body crippled, but his mind remained sharp and alert. And since he wanted to be a writer, Mark O'Brien entered Cal to major in English and learn his trade. He wrote this poem for us about school here and about graduation.
Graduation. Today I hear the crowd's applause. Receive the congratulations from ...
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"The Sessions" is a sensitive and poignant film with an outstanding performance by John Hawkes as poet Mark O'Brien a childhood victim of polio that left him paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on personal attendants and an iron lung that enables him to survive the nights without suffocating. In voice and facial expression he manages to perfectly capture the life of a severely disabled man who likes to push against boundaries and retains a sense of humor--he tells someone that he believes in God because he needs to blame someone. This role is quite a departure for Hawkes who gave terrific performances in films like "Winter's Bone" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" where he was Jennifer Lawrence's loner brother and a deranged cult leader haunting Elizabeth Olsen. Helen Hunt is memorable as the sex surrogate to whom O'Brien turns to help him achieve his dream of sexual intimacy with a woman. A professional as well as a wife and mother she doesn't hesitate to take exception with the notion that she is some kind of prostitute and clearly she isn't. William H Macy is the local parish priest whom O'Brien a devout Catholic relies on for advice and encouragement. There's plenty of wry humor watching Macy trying to figure it all out as he knows he's in uncharted waters. Based on a magazine essay director/writer Ben Lewin handles this unusual subject matter with great sensitivity and intelligence. This isn't some Hallmark TV movie it's a mature, honest film that isn't going to insult your intelligence. Definitely worth seeing.
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