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
Bill Hillman - 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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Terrific adult drama about Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a man who has been living in an iron lung since the age of six due to polio. At the age of 38 he confides to his priest (William H. Macy) that he wants to know the touch of a woman so he hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). With a story like this there are just so many ways that it could have failed but writer-director Ben Lewin does a terrific job as do to the leads and in the end THE SESSIONS really turns into a touching movie. I really wasn't sure what to expect going in but this actually turned out to be a terrific character study through a group of sex sessions, which at first seemed like a far-fetched idea until you learn that it's actually based on a real guy and on the article he wrote. What makes the film work so well is that both characters are fully formed and it's especially important when it comes to O'Brien since we're going on this journey with his as he tries to deal with his disease and the physical limitations he has. The performance from Hawkes is so remarkable because he has to act pretty much just using his head. Since the majority of the film has him in the lung or under the covers, we mainly just see his face and hear his voice and the way Hawkes builds this character and his emotions is just something truly incredible to watch. It also helps that Hunt is so great in her role as she's pretty much playing the guy's teacher, lover and friend. The compassion she brings to the role is certainly something special and the chemistry between the two hits on all the right marks. Macy is also excellent as the priest bringing in some needed humor. Moon Bloodgood, Adam Arkin and Annika Marks are also great in their supporting parts. THE SESSIONS boils down to being a story about something with physical limitations and I'd say it's one of the better films to come from this sub-genre. The movie is funny but it's also incredibly touching as these two people slowly come together over a group of sessions. This is certainly a movie for adults as there's no trickery in the story but instead it just plays out in a mature fashion.
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